The Eastern Hemlock is one of the most majestic of our native trees. It grows naturally from Canada to the southern Appalachian Mountains region here in North Georgia. In fact the three trees that we have at the Cherokee Garden in Cobb County were donated by a Cherokee Nation citizen who lives near Dahlonega, Georgia. These generous people allowed us to transplant the hemlocks along with Leucothea (Dog Hobble) and numerous native ferns.
The hemlocks prefer part shade and protection from harsh winds. Generally hemlocks are difficult to grow here in the Atlanta area because of our summer heat and humidity.
The Cherokee had multiple uses for the Eastern Hemlock. A tea from the stem tips was used for kidney ailments. A bark poultice was used for itching armpits; roots were also used in a decoction to aid expelling the afterbirth along with Sycamore and Sawbriar; a warm tea consumed for stomach aches; and a stiff bark tea was used for sinus.
Over the last ten years the native Eastern Hemlocks here in the Southeast are under attack from an invasive insect. The Hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) poses a huge threat to the eastern hemlock tree. It is a bug native to East Asia that sucks the phloem sap from the needles which in turn slowly kills the tree. It is so sad to drive through the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and see that entire hillsides of hemlock have died. Spraying is effective on individual trees but it is not practical for a entire forest. Hopefully the academic research that is being conducted now will find a solution in the near future.