Wednesday, June 13, 2012
More Photos from the Smokies
Known as the “redwood of the east,” some of the largest and most common trees in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are the Eastern Hemlocks. They can grow more than 150 feet tall with trunks measuring over six feet in diameter. Some hemlocks in the park are over 500 years old. Unfortunately, they are under attack from a non-native insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). The last photo is of a giant dead Eastern Hemlock on the Alum Cave Bluff Trail in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Ecologically, hemlocks play a vital role by providing deep shade along creeks, maintaining a cool micro-climate that is critical to the survival of many cold water species. The impact of widespread loss of the hemlock could trigger changes more significant than those that followed the demise of the American Chestnut.