Douglas fir is one of the most common evergreen trees in the our region. It grows fast and can tolerate many soil types. This is a good tree to plant in groups as a windbreak, or at the edge of wooded areas, as it needs plenty of space.
The bark is thin, smooth, and gray on young trees, and thick and corky on older trees. The needle-like leaves are spirally arranged and 2-3.5 cm long, and a bud at the tip of most branches distinguishes it from other evergreens. Douglas fir foliage has a noticeable sweet fruity-resinous scent, particularly if crushed. The 2-4 inch long cones are green in spring, maturing to orange-brown in the autumn 6-7 months later. The male cones disperse yellow pollen in spring.
Many kinds of wildlife depend on Douglas fir for winter forage. Mice, voles, shrews, chipmunks, pine siskins, song sparrows, golden-crowned sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, red crossbills, dark-eyed juncos, and purple finches all eat the abundant seeds. Black-tailed deer and elk will eat the seeds late in winter when other forage is scarce. The Douglas squirrel harvests and caches great quantities of Douglas fir cones for later use, and the squirrels will also eat mature pollen cones, the inner bark, terminal shoots, and tender young needles.
Fun facts: Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is neither a true fir, nor is it a hemlock (hence the Latin name, *Pseudo*tsuga). It is its own genus altogether. It is also the second-tallest evergreen in the world after the Coast Redwood. Trees 200-250 feet or more in height and 5-6 feet in diameter are common in old growth stands, and heights of 300-400 feet were reported by early lumbermen. It commonly lives more than 500 years and occasionally more than 1,000 years.
- Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
- Water Requirements: Dry, Moist, Seasonally Wet
- Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
- Growth Rate: Fast
- Spreads: No
- Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
- Fire-resistant: Yes
- Edible: No
- Mature Height: 120-240ft
- Mature Width:30ft