Nature Profile

Trees

Douglas-fir

Pseudotsuga menziesii

The Rocky Mountain variety of Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca is more commonly planted in the Eastern United States than the coastal variety from the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest. Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir has reached heights of 80 feet or more at The Holden Arboretum.

In the landscape Douglas-fir makes a fine backdrop and contrast to early spring flowering trees such as magnolias and flowering cherries, and in fall it contrasts well with the bright foliage of maples and birches. This seedling can also be planted with future Christmas tree use in mind.

The specimen closest to the Corning Visitor Center is in the Arthur S. Holden Sr. Hedge Collection. West of Blueberry Pond on Squirrel Ridge a  Douglas-fir planted 36 years ago now measures 70’ tall and 22’ wide, and north of the ponderosa pine grove nearby a Douglas-fir planted 72 years ago is 73’ x 23’.

The state tree of Oregon, Douglas-fir is one of the world’s tallest trees. According to the Forest Service, the tallest one in the United States was 330’ in Washington State. Old growth stands of Douglas-fir are the primary habitat of the spotted owl. Douglas-fir is one of the most common Christmas trees nationally, and Oregon is the state where most Christmas trees are harvested. It has very good needle retention, a pungent citrus-like fragrance and relatively soft foliage. Some Christmas tree farms in Ohio grow Douglas-fir. This tree’s distinguishing characteristics are its long pointed non-resinous buds and pendant cones with trident bracts.

Douglas-fir is a long-lived tree. The oldest was a little more than 1,400 years old in the State of Washington. It is the most important timber tree in North America. This tree transplants with ease and requires a sunny location and fairly well-drained, moist, acid to neutral soil in order to thrive. Late afternoon shade and protection from high winds is beneficial.

Ethan Johnson, Plant Records Curator

Light: Full Sun

Site Selection: Open Spaces (Parks/ Lawns)

Value: Winter Interest, Evergreen

Size: 70 - 80’

Growth Rate: Moderate

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