Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii in Anacortes Community Forest Lands, Washington
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Pseudotsuga

See text

Douglas-fir is the English name applied in common to evergreen coniferous trees of the genus Pseudotsuga (play /ˌsjdˈtsɡə/)[1] in the family Pinaceae. There are five species, two in western North America, one in Mexico, and two in eastern Asia. Nineteenth-century botanists had problems in classifying Douglas-firs, due to the species' similarity to various other conifers better known at the time; they have at times been classified in Pinus, Picea, Abies, Tsuga, and even Sequoia. Because of their distinctive cones, Douglas-firs were finally placed in the new genus Pseudotsuga (meaning "false hemlock") by the French botanist Carrière in 1867. The genus name has also been hyphenated as Pseudo-tsuga.



The common name Douglas-fir honours David Douglas, the Scottish botanist who first introduced P. menziesii into cultivation at Scone Palace in 1827.[2] Douglas is known for introducing many North American native conifers to Europe. The hyphen in the name indicates that Douglas-firs are not true firs, not being members of the genus Abies.[3]


Douglas-firs are medium-size to extremely large evergreen trees, 20–120 metres (70–390 ft) tall (although only Coast Douglas-firs reach such great height).[4] The leaves are flat, soft, linear, and completely encircle the branches (this can be useful in distinguishing it from other species), generally resembling those of the firs. The female cones are pendulous, with persistent scales (unlike true firs), and are distinctive in having a long tridentine (three-pointed) bract that protrudes prominently above each scale.

Uniquely among conifers, the Douglas-fir has cones with 3-lobed bracts sticking out between the scales. The cones hang down rather than sticking up as in true firs. The needles are 2–4 centimetres (0.8–1.6 in) long and occur singly rather than in fascicles.

Species and varieties

Coast Douglas-fir seed cone, from a tree grown from seed collected by David Douglas

By far the best-known is the very widespread and abundant North American species Pseudotsuga menziesii, a taxonomically complex species[5] divided into two major varieties (treated as distinct species or subspecies by some botanists): coast Douglas-fir or "green Douglas-fir", on the Pacific coast; and Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir or "interior Douglas-fir", in the interior west of the continent extending as far inland as Calgary, Alberta.[6] Some botanists divide the latter in turn into two varieties, "blue Douglas-fir" or "Colorado Douglas-fir" (var. glauca) in the southern Rocky Mountains, and "gray Douglas-fir" or "Fraser River Douglas-fir" (var. caesia) in the northern Rocky Mountains. The species as a whole is generally known as simply "Douglas-fir", or as "common Douglas-fir"; other less widely used names include "Oregon Douglas-fir", "Douglas Tree", and "Oregon Pine". It is the state tree of Oregon.

In Australia and New Zealand, the common Douglas-fir is known as "Oregon" timber.

Coast Douglas-fir has attained heights of 393 feet (120 m). That was the estimated height of the tallest conifer ever well-documented, the Mineral Tree (Mineral, Washington), measured in 1924 by Dr. Richard E. McArdle,[7] former chief of the U.S. Forest Service.[8] The volume of that tree was 515 cubic metres (18,190 cu ft). The tallest living individual is the Brummitt (Doerner) Fir in Coos County, Oregon, 99.4 metres (326 ft) tall.[9] Only Coast Redwood[10] reach greater heights based on current knowledge of living trees. At Quinault, Washington, is found a collection of the largest Douglas-firs in one area. Quinault Rain Forest hosts the most of the top ten known largest Douglas-firs.

As of 2009, the largest Douglas-firs in the world are, by volume:[11]

  1. Red Creek Tree (Red Creek, SW British Columbia) 12,320 cubic feet (349 m3)
  2. Queets Fir (Queets River Valley-Olympic National Park) 11,710 cubic feet (332 m3)
  3. Tichipawa (Quinalt Lake Rain Forest-Olympic National Park) 10,870 cubic feet (308 m3)
  4. Rex (Quinalt Lake Rain Forest-Olympic National Park) 10,200 cubic feet (290 m3)
  5. Ol' Jed (Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park) 10,040 cubic feet (284 m3)
Coast Douglas-fir branch
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir twig
The buds of a Coast Douglas-fir

All of the other species are of restricted range and little-known outside of their respective native environments, and even there are often rare and only of very scattered occurrence in mixed forests; all those are listed as being of unfavourable conservation status.

North America


  • Pseudotsuga japonica (Shiras.) Beissn. – Japanese Douglas-fir
  • Pseudotsuga sinensis Dode – Chinese Douglas-fir[13]
    • Pseudotsuga sinensis var. brevifolia (W.C.Cheng & L.K.Fu) Farjon & Silba – Short-leaf Chinese Douglas-fir
    • Pseudotsuga sinensis var. forrestii – Yunnan Douglas-fir
    • Pseudotsuga sinensis var. gaussenii (Flous) Silba – Narrow-cone Chinese Douglas-fir
    • Pseudotsuga sinensis var. sinensis
    • Pseudotsuga sinensis var. wilsoniana – Taiwan Douglas-fir

Formerly placed here


Douglas-fir wood is used for structural applications that are required to withstand high loads. It is used extensively in the construction industry. Other examples include its use for homebuilt aircraft such as the RJ.03 IBIS canard. Very often, these aircraft were designed to utilize Sitka spruce, which is becoming increasingly difficult to source in aviation quality grades.

Douglas-fir is one of the most commonly marketed Christmas tree species in the United States, where they are sold alongside firs like Noble Fir and Grand Fir. Douglas-fir Christmas trees are usually trimmed to a near perfect cone instead of left to grow naturally like Noble and Grand firs.[14]

Pests and diseases

Douglas-firs are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including Autumnal Moth, Bordered White, The Engrailed, Pine Beauty and Turnip Moth. The gelechiids Chionodes abella and Chionodes periculella and the tortrix moth Cydia illutana have been specifically recorded on P. menziesii.


A California Native American myth explains that each three-ended bract is the tail and two tiny legs of a mouse that hid inside the scales of the tree's cones during forest fires, and the tree was kind enough to be its enduring sanctuary.

In the American television series Twin Peaks, primary character Special Agent Dale Cooper displays a fascination with the firs upon arriving in the titular town.

See also

  • Tree: A Life Story


  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ Trust Walks: "Dunkeld and The Hermitage," a podcast by the National Trust for Scotland; 27 June 2009
  3. ^ Little, E. L. (1953). Check List of native and naturalized trees of the United States (including Alaska). Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA Agricultural Handbook 41. 
  4. ^ Carder, Al (1995). Forest Giants of the World Past and Present. pp. 3–4. 
  5. ^ Li, Peng; W. T. Adams (1989). "Rangewide patterns of allozyme variation in Douglas-fir". Canad. J. Forest Res. 19 (2): 149–161. doi:10.1139/x89-022. 
  6. ^ "Edworthy Park - Calgary, Alberta - Wikipedia Entries on". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  7. ^ Forest Giants of the World Past and Present by Al Carder 1995, pg. 3-4.
  8. ^ "Richard McArdle Bio, USFS History, Forest History Society". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  9. ^ Gymnosperm Database: Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii (2006)
  10. ^ "Sequoia sempervirens". The Gymnosperm Database. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  11. ^ Van Pelt, Robert (2001). Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast. University of Washington Press. p. 44. ISBN 0295981407. 
  12. ^ "UC/Jepson Manual treatment for Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii".,235,0,237. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  13. ^ a b "GRIN Species Records of Pseudotsuga". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  14. ^ "National Christmas Tree Association". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Douglas fir — or Douglas spruce or Douglas pine or Douglas hemlock n. [after D. Douglas (1798 1834), Scot botanist in U.S.] any of a genus (Pseudotsuga) of giant evergreen trees of the pine family, found in W North America and valued for their wood, esp. a… …   English World dictionary

  • Douglas fir — a coniferous tree, Pseudotsuga menziesii, of western North America, often more than 200 ft. (60 m) high, having reddish brown bark, flattened needles, and narrow, light brown cones, and yielding a strong, durable timber: the state tree of Oregon …   Universalium

  • Douglas fir — didžioji pocūgė statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Pušinių šeimos dekoratyvinis, medieninis, vaistinis augalas (Pseudotsuga menziesii), paplitęs Šiaurės Amerikoje. Iš jo gaunama derva. atitikmenys: lot. Pseudotsuga menziesii angl. coastal… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • Douglas-fir — didžioji pocūgė statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Pušinių šeimos dekoratyvinis, medieninis, vaistinis augalas (Pseudotsuga menziesii), paplitęs Šiaurės Amerikoje. Iš jo gaunama derva. atitikmenys: lot. Pseudotsuga menziesii angl. coastal… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • Douglas Fir —    The Douglas fir is a beautiful evergreen tree that belongs to the pine family. It is very common in northwestern North America and the Rocky Mountains, and is the source of more timber than any other species of tree in America. It grows nearly …   Dictionary of eponyms

  • Douglas fir — pocūgė statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Pušinių (Pinaceae) šeimos augalų gentis (Pseudotsuga). atitikmenys: lot. Pseudotsuga angl. Douglas fir; Oregon fir vok. Douglasfichte; Douglasie; Douglastanne rus. дугласия; лжетсуга; псевдотсуга lenk …   Dekoratyvinių augalų vardynas

  • Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets — (Банф,Канада) Категория отеля: 3 звездочный отель Адрес: 525 Tunnel Mountain Road …   Каталог отелей

  • douglas-fir beetle — noun also douglas fir bark beetle Usage: usually capitalized D : a bark beetle (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae) very destructive to Douglas fir and sometimes to western larch …   Useful english dictionary

  • douglas-fir tussock moth — noun Usage: usually capitalized D : a dull colored moth (Hemerocampa pseudotsugata) with a red spotted hairy larva that feeds on and may seriously defoliate Douglas fir and sometimes other firs …   Useful english dictionary

  • douglas fir bark beetle — noun see douglas fir beetle …   Useful english dictionary

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