Douglas-Fir cone with three pronged bracts.
NPS photo by D. Biddle
Scientific name: Pseudotsuga menziesii
Habitat: 5500 ft. - 11500 ft. (1650 m. - 3450 m.). Douglas-fir form dense dark forests on north facing montane slopes. Higher up in the subalpine it's found mixed into the forest on warmer south facing slopes.
Characteristics: Many Douglasfir are straight Christmas-tree shaped trees with relatively dense foliage in crown. Height can be approximately 100 feet, with a trunk diameter to 30 inches. The needles are 1 inch long, flat, with a rounded tip and a short stalk attaching them to the twig. They possess a lemony/citrus smell when crushed. Female cones can be 2 to 3 inches long. The cones have prominent three-pronged papery bracts protruding from between the cone scales, making it easy to identify Douglas-fir.
Fun Facts: The hyphen in the common name, indicates that Douglas-fir is not a true fir, nor is it a spruce. The genus name Pseudotsuga means "false hemlock." The scientific name also honors the plant's discoverer, the botanist Archibald Menzies from Scotland, while the common name honors another Scottish botanist, David Douglas, who first introduced the tree into cultivation.
The Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir, a smaller tree with somewhat blue-green needles, is usually considered a subspecies or variety of Douglas-fir distinct from the larger, greener Pacific Coast Douglas-firs. The bigcone Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa) of southern California mountains is the only other full species of Pseudotsuga in North America.
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