Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) is a large, slow growing species that thrives in mixed stands of timber throughout the Kootenay Interior wet belt. Trees often reach heights of 125 to 160 feet with diameters ranging from 2 to 5 feet, and can live up to a few hundred years. Western Hemlock frequently grows alongside Douglas-Fir and Western Red Cedar.
Western Hemlock is valued for its good working properties and can be machined easily. Its excellent treatability makes it a preferred species for treated wood applications where density and high strength are important. Western hemlock is often sold together with Amabilis Fir under the name Hem-Fir.
Western Hemlock is a shade-tolerant species and as the tree grows, the lower branches drop off creating large portions of clear lumber in the outside of the log and small knots in the inner section of the log.
The knots in Interior Hemlock are structurally sound, live and inter-grown compared to Coastal Hemlock, where dead, black knots are often present. Western Hemlock timbers have a straight uniform grain, fine texture and a uniform color, ranging from creamy white to pale gold. The wood is usually free of resin and is odorless when dry.
Western Hemlock is used for general construction including dimensional lumber, treated lumber and timbers. Hemlock can also be used for finishing products such as mouldings, windows and doors, and flooring. It is recognized as one of the best Canadian woods for general construction, industrial uses and joinery.