East­ern hem­lock

Toronto Star - - INSIGHT -

( Tsuga canaden­sis) Neigh­bour­hood: Bayview Vil­lage, North York

Ravine/Park: Vill­aways Park, along the Don River

Height: 22 m (72 feet); di­am­e­ter: 64 cm (2 feet, 2 inches)

It sounds like the plot of a hor­ror movie: An en­tire species un­der im­mi­nent threat of con­ti­nen­tal elim­i­na­tion from a fast­trav­el­ling in­va­sive in­sect that at­tacks and kills its host. But this is what is hap­pen­ing in the United States, where the hem­lock woolly adel­gid, an aphid-like in­sect, is slowly killing great swaths of east­ern hem­locks. Though the in­sect has not yet taken hold in East­ern Canada — fed­eral agen­cies are closely mon­i­tor­ing for in­fes­ta­tions — Davies says we should be ad­mir­ing east­ern hem­locks be­fore they are gone. This par­tic­u­lar east­ern hem­lock is an im­pres­sive 22 m tall — about five times the height of a typ­i­cal trans­port truck. With­out tak­ing a core from the tree trunk, Davies can’t defini­tively say the age of this tree — or any of the 47 east­ern hem­locks in his ravine study. But east­ern hem­locks, one of just three na­tive conifers in the Toronto area, can be very old with­out be­ing very big; some in On­tario, in­clud­ing sev­eral in the Ni­a­gara Gorge, are be­lieved to be more than 400 years old.

This east­ern hem­lock is an im­pres­sive 22 m tall — about five times the height of a typ­i­cal trans­port truck.

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