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Home > Landscaping > Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects



Pseudotsuga menziesii

Douglas fir

This species does not produce flowers
Full sun Mostly sunny Partial sun
Moist soil Dry soil


At a Glance: Large coniferous tree with thick, fluted bark.

Height: Up to 300 feet (90 meters).
Growth Form: Tree.
Stems: Very thick bark with deep cracks when mature, helping the tree withstand forest fires.
Leaves: Needles 2-3 cm (0.8-1 in) long with pointed tips, 1 groove on upper surface, 2 white rows of stomata on lower surface, spirally arranged, flat scar on twig upon falling; buds sharp-pointed; color: yellowish green.
Flowers: Pollen cones reddish-brown, small.
Flowering Period: none.
Fruits: Young seed cones hanging, oval, 5-10 cm (2-4 in) long, green when young, turning reddish-brown to grey; scales papery; bracts prominently 3-forked, extend beyond scales.

Pseudotsuga menziesii
Photo © 2003, Starflower Foundation
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Sun/Shade Tolerance Hydrology Elevation Range
full sun > 80%
mostly sunny 60%-80%
partial sun and shade 40%- 60%
mostly shady 60%-80%
full shade > 80%

wet
moist
dry

low elevation
mid elevation
sub-alpine
high elevation


Soil Preferences
sandy soils
gravelly soils
clay soils
muddy soils
peaty soils
well drained soils
shallow soils
deep soils
acidic soils
basic soils
humic soils
nutrient rich soils
nutrient poor soils
mineral soils
organic soils

Habitat Preferences
Aquatic and Wetland:
Ponds or lakes
Shallow pools
Sloughs
Swales or wet ditches
Seasonally inundated areas
Marshes or swamps
Aquatic bed wetlands
Emergent wetlands
Scrub-shrub wetlands
Forested wetlands
Bogs, fens
Seeps, springs
Shorelines and Riparian:
Lake shores
Bog margins
Streams or rivers
Stream or river banks
Riparian corridors
River bars
Floodplains
Bottomlands
Alluvial areas
Saltwater Areas:
In or near saltwater
Mud flats
Tidal areas
Estuaries
Saltmarshes
Brackish water
Seashores
Coastal dunes or beaches
Rocky or Gravelly Areas:
Coastal bluffs
Cliffs
Rocky slopes
Outcrops
Crevices
Glacial outwash
Gullies
Slide areas
Sub-alpine and Alpine:
Heaths
Snow beds
Tundra
Avalanche tracks
Forests and Thickets:
Forests and woods
Open forests
Coniferous forests
Old growth forests
Deciduous forests
Mixed forests
Nurse logs
Forest edges, openings, or clearings
Thickets
Meadows and Fields:
Pastures or fields
Meadows or grassy areas
Mossy areas
Disturbed Areas:
Roadsides
Trailsides
Logged sites
Burned areas
Disturbed sites

Wildlife Value
Berries
Seeds
Nectar for hummingbirds
Nectar for butterflies
Host for insect larvae
Thickets and shelter
Thorny or protective cover

Birds: Birds that eat the seeds include grouse, crosbills, siskins, and many others. Chickadees, nuthatches, brown creepers, and woodpeckers find insects in the trunk, branches, and twigs. Cavity-nesting birds and other wildlife, including flying squirrels, nest and roost in cavities in mature trees.
Insects: Foliage is eaten by pine white butterfly larvae, silver-spotted tiger moth larvae, and numerous other moths.
Mammals: Squirrels and chipmunks eat the seeds. The foliage and twigs are browsed by beavers, porcupines, deer, and elk.


Ethnobotanical Uses and Other Facts
Material Uses: The wood and bark was used as fuel by most coastal groups. The wood was used to make spear handles, harpoon shafts, spoons, dip-net poles, harpoon barbs, fire tongs, salmon weirs, caskets and halibut and cod hooks. The pitch was used to sealjoints on implements such as harpoon heads, gaffs and fishhooks, and for caulking canoes and water vessels. The Nuxalk, Quinault and others used the pitchy heartwood for torches. Wood is used in many types of construction. Commonly used as a Christmas tree.
Medicinal Uses: Pitch was used to make a medicinal salve for wounds and irritations. The bark of the young root is boiled by the Swinomish and babies are washed in it. The bud tips are picked by them and chewed for sore throats and mouth sores.
Food Uses: The Comox prepared dogfish by stuffing it with rotten, powdered Douglas fir and placing it in a pit lined with the same material.
Name Info: Menziesii refers to Dr. Archibald Menzies who first described the species. The common name is from botanist David Douglas. Pseudotsuga means false hemlock. The tree is actually not a fir.
Interesting Facts: The tree can live for over a thousand years. It only appeared in our region 7,000 years ago.



Suggested References



The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.