This card is part of our Animal and Plant Companions Series, which highlights native North American animals and plants who rely on each other for food, shelter, or survival. Let’s meet the pair and learn ways that we can help ensure they’re with us for generations to come!Porcupines are large and generally docile rodents who have a wide range extending from New England through Canada and west of the Rocky Mountains down to northern Mexico. These shy woodland animals tend to hang out in tree tops and rocky shelters, hidden from view. Much of their time is spent foraging on vegetation. Their favorite snack is the Eastern Hemlock! You might stumble across a shrubby Hemlock tree with bushy, blown out ends. This appearance is thanks to a porcupine munching on the tender growing tips and young branches.
In recent decades Porcupines have been forced to look for snacks elsewhere, as Hemlock trees are becoming increasingly scarce in certain areas, especially the Eastern and southern reaches of their range (especially Virginia and the Great Lakes). The invasive Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is to blame. These tiny sap sucking insects eventually kill the trees they feed on or weaken them to attack by disease. Eastern Hemlock is listed as Near Threatened as a result.
Many efforts to preserve this important tree (to porcupines and people) are underway. To learn more, visit the Hemlock Restoration Initiative.
See all stories behind our Animal and Plant Companions Series here.
About the author:
Vincent Frano is an avid student of nature. He is trained as an herbalist with over 10 years of experience in European traditions with knowledge of Ayurvedic and North American herbs. He holds a BS in Sustainable Horticulture from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he focused on herbal medicines, native plants, invasive species, and ecosystem restoration. Vincent is the co-founder of Small Victories and is the lead illustrator for Small Victories' products.
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