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Needles of 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.  It has a conical shape, similar to that seen on spruces.

Botanical name:

Pseudotsuga menziesii

All common names:

Douglas-fir, Douglasfir, Douglas fir

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)

Native Locale:

  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Screen,
  • Specimen

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 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Alkaline soil,
  • Road salt

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Intolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Intolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Ornamental Interest:

  • Showy fruit

Seasons of Interest:

  • early winter,
  • midwinter,
  • late winter,
  • early spring,
  • mid spring,
  • late spring,
  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall,
  • late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Pyramidal

Growth Rate:

  • Slow,
  • Moderate

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • 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 to 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.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to western North America from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific northwest.

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 evergreen needles, spirally arranged on branches or 2-ranked.
Blue-green to silvery gray-green, shiny, 2 white bands on underside of needles.
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 

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

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

Pendula (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.


Location of Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) at the Arboretum