Along with other notable species western hemlock originates from the pacific North West and was introduced into the UK along with species such as Douglas fir and Western Red Cedar in the early 1800’s. It was quickly identified as a potential forestry species. A species that enjoys sites of high annual rainfall and can cope well with low fertility, it make a good addition to the upland mix. It is however sensitive to late spring frosts and suffers if planted in the open or in competition with heather. Its ability to regenerate means that in some areas it is considered invasive particularly along river banks where it can form a dense canopy.
The timber from this species is not as highly valued as some other species however its rapid growth rates on low fertility sites can mean it is still an economically viable species to grow.
Current recommendations point towards UK seed stands and failing thet, seed sources from around Vancouver sound.
Little research has been conducted into improving the stock in the UK, although Forest Research has identified 38 plus trees The Co-op is likely to focus its work on identifying additional plus trees with a focus on disease resistance (butt rots are a common problem) growth rate and tree form. Newly selected plus trees will be used to establish new seed orchards. As with other species early work will include comparative trials including UK seed stands and exotic seed orchard sources.