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TREES & Plants

Douglas-fir

Douglas-fir is an excellent specimen plant or used in mass for screening. Although not a true fir, it is a beautiful evergreen for the larger landscape with a conical shape, similar to that seen on spruces.

 

Botanical name: 
Pseudotsuga menziesii
All Common Names: 
Douglas-fir, Douglasfir, Douglas Fir
Family (English): 
Pine
Family (Botanic): 
Pinaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)
Native Locale: 
  • North America
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
Growth Rate: 
  • Medium
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs direct light daily)
Tolerances: 
  • Dry sites
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Pyramidal
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Screen
Time of Year: 
  • Early winter
  • Mid winter
  • Late winter
More Information: 

Size & Form

A broadly conical to narrow  pyramidal evergreen tree with open, tiered branches that are slightly pendulous.
It grows 40-80 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide in landscape situations. In its native habitat it can reach 150 feet high.
Excellent specimen plant or used in mass to create screening.

Tree & Plant Care

Best in moist, neutral to acidic soil in full sun.
Does not like hot, dry sites, prefers a cooler climate

Disease, pests, and problems

Stressed trees susceptible to needle diseases and insect problems.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Wildlife is attracted to the tree for food and shelter.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to western North America from the Rocky Mountains and Pacific coast.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

Birds are attracted to cones

Bark color and texture 

The mature bark is thick and fissured and has a reddish-brown coloration.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Leaves are spirally arranged on branches or 2-ranked.
Blue-green to silvery gray-green, shiny, 2 white bands on underside of needles.
Thin, 1 to 1/2 inches long, winter buds are pointed.
Needles smell of camphor when crushed

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Monoecious, male flowers are pendulous along stem, female flowers are on tips of branches

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)photo: John Hagstrom

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Oblong, tan cones, 3 to 4 inches long with conspicuous 3-pointed bracts protruding  between scales
Cones mature in one year

Cultivars and their differences 

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) : slightly more more compact than species with upright branches and bluish-green needles

Fastigiata Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Fastigiata’ ): spire-like, tight branching, distinctly ascending, green-gray needles

Weeping Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Pendula’ ): Unusual form with branches held close to the trunk with  twisted, cascading stems. Lateral branches are spreading and drooping. Green needle color.