Pseudotsuga menziesii
Common Name: Douglas fir
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Native Range: Southwestern British Columbia to western central California
Zone: 4 to 6
Height: 40.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 12.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: High
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Best grown in medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun. Does best in locations with abundant air and soil moisture. A good tree for northern and northwestern climates, but not for areas such as St. Louis where hot and humid summers with periods of drought are common.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pseudotsuga menziesii, commonly called Douglas fir, is a very large conifer that grows 50-80' tall in cultivation, but to 300+' tall in the wild. Unique forked cone bracts distinguish this tree from all other conifers. The species is indigenous to coastal areas and up to 5500' in elevation in the mountains from British Columbia south to central California. Cones (to 4.5" long) are pendulous with protruding trident-shaped bracts. Flat, linear, spirally-arranged, dark green needles (to 1.5" long) with white banding beneath. Fallen or plucked needles leave raised circular leaf scars on the twigs. Needles are fragrant when bruised. Narrow pyramidal shape with branching to the ground when young. Trees become more cylindrical with age as they lose their lower branching, with older trees typically having branching only on the top 1/3 of the tree. This is an important timber tree in the Pacific Northwest. Pseduotsuga menziesii var. glauca is the Rocky Mountain variety of this tree. It grows at higher elevations (to 9500') with a slower growth rate, and has shorter cones (to 3"), blue-green needles and better winter hardiness. Var. glauca is the commonly cultivated variety of this tree for areas outside of the Pacific Northwest, and is clearly a better selection for midwestern climates than the species because of its better cold tolerance (species is hardy to USDA Zone 6, but var. glauca is hardy to Zone 4). Synonymous with and sometimes called Pseudotsuga taxifolia.

Genus name comes from the Greek words pseudo meaning false and Tsuga meaning hemlock.

Specific epithet honors Scottish naval surgeon and botanist Archibald Menzies (1754-1842).

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems when grown in the proper environment.

Garden Uses

This is one of the largest trees in the world... a great timber tree and a great forest tree, but not really a great landscape tree for cities or towns. Growth of this magnificent tree should probably not be attempted in the St. Louis area.