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Friday, December 30, 2011

Pseudostuga menziesii - Douglas Fir

The douglas fir is a native conifer that spreads over much of the west coast into the mountains of Colorado and into Mexico. Generally not planted in residential landscapes or even larger commercial ones and likely the ones you have may be there naturally. In it's native habitat the douglas fir is a huge tree, up to 300' and is the source of most of our common building materials. Usually too large even in cultivation to grow anywhere but the largest of lots. It is none the less a beautiful tree. The English love to use this tree. We buy one as our Christmas tree yearly from Hester Family Farms.

This is an "old" one in RDM.

Leaves are linear, 1-1-1/4" long, green upper surface, lighter on the lower surface. Leaves arranged spirally but bending making a V. The bases are bent allowing the leaves to form a flattened spray or at least all the leaves pointing upward. The terminal buds are quite long, pointed, and imbricately scaled.

Notice the way the leaves are bent at the base. Some have referred to this as being like a hockey stick.

Cones, 3-4", brown in color, are perhaps the most recognizable characteristic of the doug fir. Actually it's the three tipped bracts that are the key. The funny story is that something scares a mouse into the cone and it can only get so far in and you see the tail and two rear legs.

Male and female "flowers" are red.

Bark on old trees very deeply furrowed.

Misidentification: Look at the base of the tree for the cones, you cant miss them. The terminal buds are very distinct and look like nothing else, the firs are mostly covered in resin and the spruces have somewhat rosette like bud scales. Leaves fall with a slight bump, not like a fir.

Location: Nice big one fell on a house in Santa Cruz last year.
Nisene Marks, Corner of Monterey and Bay Ave.
On River St across from Probuild.

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