Here’s another of those floral devastation stories: the Eastern hemlock is under attack by infestations of hemlock woolly adelgid, an Asian import that sucks the sap from young twigs, retarding growth, causing needles to drop prematurely, and ultimately killing the trees—within a few years, actually, so it’s a short “ultimately.” Every hemlock we examined yesterday during our hike in Lumpkin County was infested.
Hemlocks are one of my favorite trees, and there is no stopping this invasion. These forests have already lost the legendary chestnuts, and this is another huge blow to this ecosystem. The Forest Service predicts that the loss of this species will change stream flows, light permeation, and in turn, of course, change habitat for many other species, including in streams.
Sad, sad, sad.