Tsuga canadensis 'Horsford Contorted' / Horsford Contorted Canadian hemlock

Tsuga canadensis 'Horsford Contorted' is a dwarf, upright bushy selection of Canadian hemlock with dense, undulating branches and exceptionally twisted, fine branchlets holding short, dark-green needles. Branch tips and buds bear an attractive cinnamon-brown pubescence. One can describe the branchlets as having a "pigtail-like effect" — a curious and attractive attribute.

Although somewhat slow to get established, 'Horsford Contorted' will eventually mature to 18 inches (45 cm) tall and 28 inches (70 cm) tall after 10 years, an annual growth rate of around 2 inches (5 cm).

This cultivar originated as a seedling selected in 1970 by William C. Horsford of Connecticut. He and Greg Williams found a batch of unique and unusual dwarf seedlings growing in the vicinity of a large, contorted hemlock growing in pasture in Vermont. Layne Ziegenfuss of Hillside nursery, Lehighton, Pennsylvania was instrumental in initially marketing the plant to collector conifer enthusiasts. Occasional one will find this plant labeled as 'Pigtail' or 'Horsford Contorta.'