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Tsuga chinensis - (Franch.)E.Pritz.

Common Name Chinese Hemlock
Family Pinaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Forests, especially on steep cliffs, 2300 - 3000 metres[109]. Mountains, mixed forests, valleys and river basins at elevations of 1000 - 3500 metres[266].
Range E. Asia - C. and W. China.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Tsuga chinensis Chinese Hemlock


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Tsuga chinensis Chinese Hemlock
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Tsuga chinensis is an evergreen Tree growing to 45 m (147ft 8in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from October to November. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Abies chinensis.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy; Hedge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Inner bark
Edible Uses: Tea

Inner bark - raw or dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread[2, 46, 161]. A herbal tea is made from the young shoot tips[2, 62, 95, 159, 183]. These tips are also an ingredient of 'spruce beer'[183].

Medicinal Uses

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Astringent  Diaphoretic  Diuretic

The bark is astringent, diaphoretic and diuretic[21]. A tea made from the inner bark or twigs is helpful in the treatment of kidney or bladder problems, and also makes a good enema for treating diarrhoea[21]. It can also be used as a gargle or mouthwash for mouth and throat problems or externally to wash sores and ulcers[21]. The powdered bark can be put into shoes for tender or sweaty feet or for foot odour[21].

Other Uses

Dye  Hedge  Hedge  Resin  Tannin  Wood

Apart from the report about the use of the wood, all the other uses listed below are based on the uses that T. canadensis is put to and a note in [46] that this species has similar uses. Yields a resin similar to Abies balsamea, it is gathered by incisions in the trunk or by boiling the wood[46, 61, 64]. The bark contains 8 - 14% tannin[46, 171]. The inner bark is used according to one report[82]. A brown dye is obtained from the bark[21, 46]. A pitch (called hemlock pitch), is obtained by distillation of the young branches[46]. Tolerant of light trimming, plants can be grown as a hedge[81]. This species does not make a good hedge in Britain[200]. Wood - soft, durable. Used for shingles[82]. The timber is used for construction, aircraft, furniture, and in mines[266].

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, it thrives best when growing in a deep well-drained soil in the western parts of Britain where it appreciates the higher rainfall[11]. However, it succeeds in most soils and positions, being especially good on acidic sandy soils[81] but also tolerating some lime[11] so long as there is plenty of humus in the soil[208]. Plants are very shade tolerant when young, but need more sunlight as they grow older[81, 200]. Plants are thin and poor when grown in dry or exposed places[200]. A very slow growing tree in most of Britain but probably faster in the far west and in Ireland[185]. Plants require hot humid summers and do not usually thrive in Britain[200]. Plants are very liable to injury by late frosts[1], they are often shrubby in cultivation[200]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].

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Propagation

Seed - it germinates better if given a short cold stratification[80, 113] and so is best sown in a cold frame in autumn to late winter. It can also be sown in early spring, though it might not germinate until after the next winter. If there is sufficient seed, an outdoor sowing can be made in spring[78]. Pot-grown seedlings are best potted up into individual pots once they are large enough to handle - grow them on in a cold frame and plant them out in early summer of the following year. Trees transplant well when they are up to 80cm tall, but they are best put in their final positions when they are about 30 - 45 cm or less tall, this is usually when they are about 5 - 8 years old[200]. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Pseudotsuga menziesiiDouglas Fir, Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir22
Tsuga canadensisCanadian Hemlock, Eastern hemlock13
Tsuga carolinianaCarolina Hemlock12
Tsuga heterophyllaWestern Hemlock12
Tsuga mertensianaMountain Hemlock12

 

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Expert comment

Author

(Franch.)E.Pritz.

Botanical References

11200266

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Tom Peterson   Sun Mar 26 2006

Where can you buy Chinese Hemlock seedlings??????? I live in Maine where the Canadien Hemlock is just now being threatened by HWA and would like to take some preventive measures by planting some Chinese Hemlocks now to replace any trees that might get an infestation of HWA.

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