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Fir: Pseudotsuga menziesii

Botanical name: Pseudotsuga menziesii

Common name: Douglas-fir

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created by:
chief cultivator

Mercer island, Wa

at a glance

Soil: damp, acidic, sand
Zones: 4a thru 8b

winter interest, butterfly attracting

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description for "Fir: Pseudotsuga menziesii"

The Douglass-fir is a magnificent, native Pacific Northwest tree and a favorite of many gardeners. These trees are widely grown, and often used as Christmas trees throughout the country. It has a sweet fragrance. Douglas-firs will reach from 70-250 feet. They have a growth habit of 8-12 inches per year and a low temperature tolerance of -30 degrees Fahrenheit. The leaves are flat, soft, linear, and completely encircle the branches (this can be useful in distinguishing Doug Fir 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. --edited by dtd siegelgirl


Native to western Canada, United States (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah) and Mexico. Douglas-fir wood is used for structural applications that are required to withstand high loads. It is used extensively in the construction industry. They are also used as food plants by the larvae of some moth and butterfly species. The common name honours David Douglas, the Scottish botanist who first introduced P. menziesii into cultivation at Scone Palace in 1827. 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. A California Native American myth explains that each of the three-ended bracts are a tail and two tiny legs of the mice who hid inside the scales of the tree's cones during forest fires, and the tree was kind enough to be the enduring sanctuary for them.

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