harold

One of my favorite trees is the hemlock. It is a pretty evergreen, but it is the location the tree loves to grow in that helps to make the hemlock one of my favorites. Native to 14 Indiana counties it seems to do best in a secluded ravine, rocky hillside, or even in places where it can put down its roots on the sides of cliffs and bluffs.

These sites are most often cool and have enough moisture to provide the perfect home for a hemlock to add a touch of the wild to its location. A medium to rather large tree, the hemlock can grow to a height of up to 70 feet with a diameter of two feet. It has a pyramid-shaped crown and its branches often droop down giving it a very picturesque appearance. Its needles are around an inch in length and have two white lines on their underneath. They are a lovely yellow green and have a glossy look. The bark on a hemlock is reddish in color and deeply furrowed that helps to give it a somewhat aged look. There are several species of hemlock with outs being the eastern hemlock, which ranges along the U.S.-Canada border all the way to the Atlantic Ocean then down the mountains of the eastern U.S. all the way to Georgia. In Indiana hemlock can be found from near the Ohio River then in a narrow band up through the hilly central section of the state to the ravines in the eastern section of our state.

The hemlock is protected in a variety of sites in Indiana. Two locations even bear the name of the hemlock. One is Hemlock Cliffs in Crawford County south of Taswell while the other is Hemlock Bluffs in Jackson County east of the village of Leesville. Hemlock Cliffs is a special area in the Hoosier National Forest which also has hemlock trees in a number of areas it manages in this section of the state. Hemlock Bluffs is a very scenic site along Guthrie Creek and is a dedicated state nature preserve. Some of the hemlock there are quite large and one is believed to be the largest in the state. Another protected area in this segment of the state is along Back Creek north of U.S. 50 east of Bedford. Yellow Brick Ravine is another nature preserve near the Taswell area, but this one is a dedicated state nature preserve that also has the yellow birch tree that is usually found in northern Indiana. This site is the only location where the yellow birch is found in southern Indiana and may not last long due to climate change.

The Sycamore Land Trust has some hemlocks in their preserves near Lake Monroe. This land trust is one of the finest in Indiana and has preserves in several locations in southern Indiana. A really great area to see hemlocks in a really wild area is along Sugar Creek in Parke and Montgomery counties. This is one of the most scenic sections of Indiana. From a few miles west of Crawfordsville to near the Wabash River north of Rockville is a region that is laced with deep ravines and rugged landscapes. Both Turkey Run and Shades state parks are prime sites to see hemlock growing in terrain they seem to thrive in. Trails in both parks allow one to see the hemlocks in a habitat that has changed little since the ice retreated back north out of Hoosierland. There are several other protected sites in the Sugar Creek area, but for the average hiker both Shades and Turkey Run are the best places to have a great hike in some very scenic landscape.

North of Sugar Creek near the village of Fountain in Fountain County is the Portland Arch-Bear Creek Canyon State Dedicated Nature Preserve where you can see a natural arch and hemlocks and other rare plants in a very scenic location.

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