Saving the NC Hemlocks “A Monument of bygone days,

I’ve kept the place where now I grow; And, over all my head did raise Above a thousand years ago

What mighty changes in that space! What revolutions on the earth!

What strange events have taken place! What wonders! Since I date my birth! Of these I have laid up a store And at your service they shall be; When you think on days of yore

Come sit beneath the Hemlock tree. In every branch I have a tongue I have a voice in every breeze; And when I speak to old or young; My aim is to instruct and please.”

The Hemlock Tree and Its Legends by Robert Bradbury (pp 16-17) excerpted from the blog


ave you ventured to Western North Carolina in the past few years and wondered what the ghostly white, spindly trees are that cling to our mountain sides? Did you wonder what killed these majestically tall trees? Was it fire? Was is a disease? If you gaze upon the forest at all, they are impossible to miss with their long, skinny branches sticking out haphazardly from the towering dead white trunk. They are called “gray ghosts” for a reason. Their hauntingly pale presence is a reminder of an unbalanced ecosystem, specifically for the NC Hemlock whether Eastern or Caro- lina species, an unbalancing that is killing these magical trees in our forests, placing them on the “at risk species” designation list, perhaps soon to be “endangered”. Welcome the work of the invasive, non- native and parasitic Hemlock Wooly Adel- gid, introduced into our eastern forests in the 1950’s from Asia. The HWA drinks the hemlock sap, which disconnects the flow of needed nutrients causing the needles to eventually fall off, casusing the death of the tree. The reason the HWA is so destruc- tive to hemlocks in NC and the eastern portion of the U.S. is because our trees have no natural adelgid predators (like a specific type of ladybug or beetle) and no host resistance as the Western Hemlocks

have. Why should the destruction of these

trees be worth the efforts and measures being taken to save them? Eastern Hem- locks love water, so they are normally found near river banks and places where there is water. The average hemlock found in the forest is approximately 7.6 inches in diameter, compared to the hemlocks found near the riverbank, which are an average of 14.3 inches in diameter. These trees along river banks provide bank stability and help regulate water temperature due to their tremendous shade factor (which enables trout to proliferate). Whether the dryer loving Carolina or the Eastern, they

are both “keystone” species that provide their own microclimate, provide habitat for neotropical birds (migratory birds that breed in Canada and the U.S. during sum- mer then spend winter in Mexico, Central America, South America or the Caribbean, They also pro- vide important warm bedding for deer in winter and they are cavity trees to bears (provide shelter via dens). Humans have long used the branches of hemlock for bedding, warmth, medicinal teas (not to be confused with the poison hemlock PLANT), the hemlock TREE is not poisonous. You can even nibble on the spring green tips, they have a lemony flavor (www.druidgar-

Neurotransmitter testing • Hormone testing for men and women Dried blood cell analysis • Ream's testing • Ear coning • Iridology Allergy testing • Diet and Lifestyle evaluation

And, free 30-minute introduction visits!

3723 West Market Street, Unit B • Greensboro 27403 336.456.4743 •

January 2020 23


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