Pseudotsuga menziesii
(Douglas Fir)
[(Mirbel) Franco]

Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinatae
Family: Pinaceae
Family Description: Pine
Key Characteristics:
Also known as Rocky Mountain Douglas Fir. [Pseudotsuga. taxifolia (Poir.)Britt. ]
  • n/a
  • borne near tips of previous years growth; staminate cones mostly on underside of the twigs; ovulate cones, soft, subapical, subsessile, cylindric-ovoid require one year to mature; readily identifiable by the exerted bracts which resemble a mouse’s tail and back legs (some books say “look like a devil’s pitchfork) Each scale bears two ovules or seeds; fall off tree entire.
  • 5-7 mm long, with a 5-8 mm long wing.

General Description:
A tree 50-70 m tall or sometimes taller, with a pyramidal crown and a trunk diameter of 1-3 m; leaves dark yellowish-green, flat, obtuse, short-stalked, 2-3 cm long; cones pendent, 5-7 (-10) cm long; scales rounded, flexible; seeds 6 mm long, with a wing a little longer. One of our most valuable lumber trees, but not attaining the size or covering the vast areas in Idaho as it does is the Pacific Northwest. Moist situations of mts. and valleys. Alta. To B. C., south to Texas and Calif.

S. W. British Columbia to central California east to s. w. Alberta through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, western Texas and north central Mexico.

Moist to dry areas with well drained, deep, loamy soils from sea level to timberline; in dense pure stand to mixed stands with almost every western conifer; does not germinate or grow well in dense shade, but does better in open stands, growing slowly at first later growing more rapidly. Dwarf Mistletoe, strong winds and the douglas fir beetle are some of its enemies.

Douglas Fir is probably the economically most valuable tree in North America. It strong, soft wood is valuable for timbers, large beams, trusses, for lumber from 1x2's to 12 inch planks, plywood, for house construction, bridges, railroad ties, mine structures, interior finishes, etc. It has a beautiful grain which takes finishes well.
The trees grow up to 1000 years old and may become 10 feet in diameter.
Wildlife use it as a cover, and its seeds are utilized by small mammals, birds, and rodents. The douglas fir squirrel, Townsend chipmunk, deer mice, wrens, crossbills and sparrows are among these. Grouse feed on its twigs and buds.

Important State References:
No information available at this time
Photos & information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002