The Douglasfir is to the world of trees what a decathlon winner is to the Olympics. This tree is an all-around champion. It is one of our most important lumber species, a magnificent ornamental tree, and one of the most popular Christmas trees in America. Additionally, a large number of bird and animal species find shelter and food in its majestic foliage. These particular Douglasfir seedlings are grown from seed from Lincoln Memorial Forest in NM.
This magnificent evergreen has a dense, cone-shape when young becoming more open and pyramid-shaped with maturity. It has a straight trunk with thin, smooth bark with resin blisters when young becoming thicker and furrowed on older trees. It reaches 40'-80', 12'-20' spread in the home landscape to over 200' in natural conditions. Coast Douglasfir needles are a dark yellow green although on some trees bluish green. In Rocky Mountain Douglasfir, the needles are blue green, but occasionally are yellowish green. The light brown, 3"-4" cones grow downward on the branches with distinctive 3-pointed bracts protruding from the between the scales. The Coast Douglasfir grows best in deep, moist, well drained, acid or neutral soil with atmospheric moisture, but the hardier Rocky Mountain variety is found in its native range on rocky mountain slopes. It does not tolerate dry, poor soils, and breakage is common on the side exposed to high winds. (zones 4-6)
Douglasfir seeds are used by blue grouse,songbirds, squirrels, rabbits, and other rodents and small animals. Antelope, deer, elk, mountain goats, and mountain sheep eat the twigs and foliage. It provides excellent cover for a wide range of animals.
While the Douglasfir may have first been introduced to cultivation by botanist-explorer David Douglas in 1826, its importance to American history continues unabated. As well as being the country's top source of lumber today, the Douglasfir also helped settle the West, providing railroad ties and telephone/telegraph poles. The Douglasfir was crucial to American soldiers in World War II as well, being used for everything from GIs' foot lockers to portable huts and even the rails of stretchers that carried many a soldier from battle. But perhaps one contribution of the Douglasfir symbolizes its place in America's evolving history more than any other. When in 1925 the time came to restore the masts of "Old Ironsides," the USS Constitution, sufficiently grand White Pine trees could no longer be found. Today, Old Ironsides proudly sails in the Boston Navy Yard under the power of three Douglasfir masts.
There are two geographical varieties of Douglasfir: Coast Douglasfir, Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii native to British Columbia along the Pacific coast to central California and western Nevada; Rocky Mountain Douglasfir native to the inland mountains of the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains from central British Columbia south to northern and central Mexico. The Coastal variety is faster growing, long-lived, and can reach over 300' tall. The needles are usually a dark yellow-green although some trees they may be bluish green. Rocky Mountain Douglasfir, Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca is hardier, slower growing, shorter lived and seldom grows over 130' tall. The needles are shorter and bluish green although in some trees may be yellowish green. The cones are barely 3" in length with bracts bent upwards.
Douglasfir is written as one word or hyphenated to show it is not a true fir.
Sensitive to drought conditions; requires good drainage.
The needles are spiral, simple, 1-1/2 inches long, shining, shade of green depends upon the variety, two bands of stomata beneath. Coast Douglasfir has dark yellow-green, occasionally bluish-green needles. Rocky Mountain Douglasfir has shorter, bluish-green, occasionally yellowish green needles.
Male is red, female is green with prominent bracts.
The light brown, oval, pendulous cones are 3-4 inches long with prominent 3-pointed bracts that protrude between the scales.