Malabar's Hemlock December 08, 2007
If you are looking for a place to do some X-country skiing, or a bird walk, let me suggest the Mohican State Forest and Malabar Farm State Park. Its rocky ravines are home to the Eastern Hemlock, Tsuga canadensis. Like its name implies, this is a tree common to the boreal forests of Canada.
Hemlocks are beautiful trees that grow on the steep bluffs of the cool gorge. My favorite conifer is one of the easiest to identify, with small cones and soft needles bearing two white parallel lines on the backside .
Hemlock groves are the favored nesting habitat for several of the most colorful and rare Ohio breeding birds: Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Black Throated-blue. The small Hemlock seeds, found within the miniature cones, are a primary food source for Pine Siskins, chickadees and the crossbills.
I don't suggest trekking over to Mohican to cut one, nor are they a variety you are likely to see on a Christmas tree lot, but they are a fairly common landscape plant. If you are considering a live tree to plant after the holiday season, this evergreen might be the perfect solution. One forewarning, if you purchase a tree to plant outside- drastically limit its indoor time- or keep it on a cool porch. Trees don't like rapid and long term 40 degree temperature fluctuations. Ask the tree nursery for instructions for the best results.
Live trees provide both habitat for the future and memories from the past. :)