It’s almost Earth Day, and it’s a good time to sit back and appreciate Washington State’s incredible natural beauty—including the Pacific Northwest’s distinct mix of evergreen trees.
Some have decided to celebrate Washington State’s trees in a super-permanent way: By getting the Washington State tree, the Western Hemlock, tattooed.
How it came to be our tree is a little underwhelming: Oregon was making fun of Washington for not having a state tree, which was apparently a righteous goof in 1946. The Oregonian assigned us the Western Hemlock as a state tree.
While some state lawmakers resisted, advocating for our tree to be the Western Red Cedar, eventually the Legislature approved a bill making the Western Hemlock official. One state senator argued that the hemlock would become the “backbone of the state’s forest industry.”
Anyway, there you have it: We have a state tree because Oregon told us to.
But it worked out fine. It’s a beautiful evergreen tree with distinctive pinecones, common in Pacific Northwest forests, and it’s become permanently woven into Washington State’s identity—just like these tattoos have been permanently inked onto these Washington State people.
These two trees were done by two separate artists at Seattle Tattoo Emporium.
This tattoo features a few hallmarks of Pacific Northwest identity—Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, mountains—and throws in some space invaders for good measure.
This Western Hemlock branch curving around a mountain was done at TygerWolf Tattoo in Fremont.
This Western Hemlock from Two Birds in Greenwood was done in a watercolor style.
Washington State is all about friendship, and so is this trio of tattoos.
This tattoo from Dark Horse in the Denny Triangle positions a classic Northwest landscape, including both a Western Hemlock and our would-be state tree the Red Cedar, in a diamond.
This colorful Western Hemlock was inked by Magdalena Sky of Tattoos and Fortune.
This Western Hemlock by Sara Kay of Laughing Buddha keeps a strong outline on top of some dynamic colorwork.
See if you can spot the real Western Hemlocks behind this tattoo.
This Western Hemlock was done in heavy blackwork.
- State Symbols [WALeg]
- Western Hemlock (.pdf) [USDA]