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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
Native Locale: 
  • North America
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Screen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
40-80 feet
Mature Width: 
12-20 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Intolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Intolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Foliage: 
  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Showy fruit
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter
  • Mid winter
  • Late winter
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Pyramidal
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
Wildlife: 
  • Birds
  • Mammals
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.