March 24, 2011

Canadian hemlock: Lovely, educational

by Diana Pounds

The grove of Canadian (Eastern) hemlock that's currently housing a barred owl is valued not only for its beauty, but its role in instruction, said Cathy Brown, assistant director in facilities planning and management.

Native from Nova Scotia to Minnesota, Canadian hemlock isn't naturally found in Iowa. A number of departments use the grove just east of Curtiss Hall for plant identification exercises and to help students understand plant communities beyond Iowa, Brown said.

Canadian hemlock, with its deep green color and soft foliage, is one of the most beautiful evergreens, Brown added. It's a challenge to find suitable habitat on campus for the tree, which needs dense shade, shelter from the wind and moist, well-drained soil. The Curtiss site seems to fit the bill.

"This small grove has been the most successful and has been in place more than 50 years," she said.