Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours
Stratification: cold stratify for 30 days
Germination: sow seed 1/4" deep, tamp the soil, mulch the seed bed
Other: fall sowing in mulched beds is prefered to artificial stratification
Introducing the Douglas Fir: Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca
Discover the majestic beauty and versatility of the Douglas Fir, scientifically known as Pseudotsuga menziesii. This evergreen conifer species is native to western North America and is highly valued for its useful wood and quick growth.
The common name of this tree honors David Douglas, a Scottish botanist who first reported its extraordinary nature and potential. However, it is important to note that the Douglas Fir is not a true fir, belonging instead to the genus Pseudotsuga. The species name, menziesii, pays homage to Archibald Menzies, a Scottish physician and rival naturalist to David Douglas. Menzies was the first to document this tree on Vancouver Island in 1791.
The Douglas Fir is often planted as a specimen tree or in mass screenings, and it is also a popular choice as a Christmas tree. Timber companies favor this tree due to its useful wood and quick growth, often replanting clear-cut areas with Douglas Fir. Furthermore, the seeds of this tree play a vital role in the ecosystem, serving as an important food source for small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, and chipmunks.
Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca, also known as the Rocky Mountain variety, thrives at higher elevations of up to 9,500 feet. Compared to the species, this variety exhibits a slower growth rate, shorter cones (up to 3 inches), and blue-green needles. It also boasts better winter hardiness, making it a preferred choice for areas outside of the Pacific Northwest. In fact, var. glauca is particularly well-suited for midwestern climates, with its superior cold tolerance (hardy to USDA Zone 4).
Coast Douglas Fir, another variety of Pseudotsuga menziesii, grows in coastal regions from British Columbia to central California. Inland, it is replaced by the Rocky Mountain variety, which extends from the Cascades in Washington and British Columbia to central British Columbia and the Mexican border.
Douglas Fir is a large and impressive conifer, capable of reaching heights of 50-80 feet in cultivation and up to 300 feet in the wild. Its unique forked cone bracts set it apart from other conifers, and its flat, linear, dark green needles (up to 1.5 inches) have white banding on the undersides. The tree takes on a narrow pyramidal shape with branching that extends to the ground when young, gradually becoming cylindrical with age as it sheds lower branches.
While the Douglas Fir is an excellent timber and forest tree, it may not be the best choice for urban landscapes due to its large size. However, it thrives in medium to wet, well-drained soils with abundant air and soil moisture. It is best suited for northern and northwestern climates, but its adaptability allows it to grow in diverse environments.
This remarkable tree is free from serious insect or disease problems when grown in its proper environment. Whether you seek a stunning specimen tree or a timber crop, the Douglas Fir will exceed your expectations. Explore the beauty and resilience of the Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca today.