Polk County’s “Most Wanted Plants” – Carolina hemlockPublished 9:06am Monday, December 3, 2012
In a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora of Polk County, the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and botanist, David Campbell need your help in locating this month’s “Most Wanted — Plant,” Tsuga caroliniana, also known by the common name: Carolina Hemlock.
Carolina Hemlock is endemic to the southern Appalachians, occurring on dry mountain slopes in western Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, but it is fairly uncommon. The heart of its range is along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, especially in the state of North Carolina. It is rare in the Piedmont but it can be found in a few sheltered areas, such as north-facing slopes and ravines.
Carolina Hemlock is a medium-sized tree, similar to its larger, more common, and more widespread cousin, the Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). One of the key characteristics used to tell these two species apart is by the pattern of the leaves (needles) on the twigs. The leaves of the Carolina Hemlock spread out from the twig at all angles; they are somewhat whorled around the twig.