Eastern, or Canadian hemlock is an evergreen conifer tree with a pyramidal growth habit and a relatively rounded top, the highest leader often drooping. The ends of branches also droop slightly, giving it a "relaxed" look. It can be clipped and trained as a shrub, and numerous cultivars exist.
Leaves are needles, alternate, flattened, ½–1 inch long, undersides whitish, with a rounded tip and slender stalk, appearing in two, somewhat flattened rows.
Bark is orangish- to grayish-brown, with scaly plates, with or without furrows.
Twigs are hairy, pale brown to gray or yellowish-brown.
Conifers don't technically "flower," but pollen is shed March–April.
Fruits are small cones ½–1 inch long, persisting handsomely through winter; cone scales woody or somewhat papery, straight, not shiny, with rounded tips. Seeds winged.
Similar species: Only one member of the pine family is native to Missouri, and that is the shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata). All other members of the pine family (including larches, spruces, firs, true cedars, and Douglas fir) that live in Missouri are non-natives that have been cultivated and only rarely persist in wild habitats on their own, and rarely if ever spread.