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Wood Species: Douglas Fir

Scientific Name: Pseudotsuga menziesii

Trade Name: American Rocky Mountain Douglas fir

Family Name: Pinaceae

Common Names: Alpine hemlock, black fir, British Columbia Douglas fir, Canadian Douglas fir, coast Douglas fir, Colorado Douglas fir, cork-barked Douglas spruce, Douglas pine, Douglas spruce, gray Douglas, green Douglas, groene Douglas, hallarin, hayarin, hayarin Colorado, inland Douglas fir, interior Douglas fir, Montana fir, Oregon, Oregon Douglas, Oregon Douglas fir, Oregon fir, Oregon pine, Oregon spruce, Pacific Coast Douglas fir, Patton's hemlock, pin de Douglas, pin de i'Oregon, pin d'Oregon, pinabete, pinho de Douglas, pino de corcho, pino de Douglas, pino de Oregon, pino Oregon, pino real, Puget Sound pine, red fir, red pine, red spruce, Rocky Mountain Douglas fir, Santiam quality fir, sapin de Douglas

Regions of Distribution: North America

Countries of Distribution: Canada, Mexico, United States


Color: Heartwood is yellowish tan to light brown; sapwood is tan to white. Heartwood may be confused with that of Southern yellow pine.

Grain: Normally straight, with occasional wavy or spiral texture. Nearly all fir flooring is vertical-grain or riftsawn clear-grade material.

Variations within species: Wood varies greatly in weight and strength. Young trees have reddish heartwood and are called red fir. The narrow-ringed wood of old trees may be yellowish-brown and is known as yellow fir.


Hardness/Janka: 660 (49% softer than Northern red oak)

Dimensional Stability: Above average (28% more stable than red oak); universally recognized for superior strength-to-weight ratio.

Origin: Native to North America

Availability: Readily available

Average and Maximum Lifespan: 200 to 800 years


Sawing/Machining: Easy to machine but with a tendency to splinter; use sharp tools when cutting or milling; more difficult to hand cut than soft pine.

Sanding: Sands satisfactorily; because of tendency toward color change, avoid over-sanding.

Nailing: Excellent nail and plate-holding ability.

Finishing: Some boards show a soft peach color when finished but generally the wood takes paints and stains very well.

Common Uses: Cabinets; Christmas trees: commercial landscape elements; construction industry projects; doors; erosion control; fencing; finger-jointed studs; fuel; furniture; glued-laminated beams; hardwood flooring; interior projects; log cabins; machine-stress-rated lumber; mine timbers; pallets; paper; plywood; poles and pilings; railroad ties; wildlife food and lodging; wood chips; windbreaks; window frames.

Detailed Description

Plant habit and lifestyle: Tree category; phanerophyte growth style; autotrophic nutrition mode; orthotropic branch structure.

Stems: Twigs are green and thin. The bark on young stands is dark gray-brown with resin blisters. Later the bark becomes thick, reddish-brown, and is divided by deep irregular fissures. Branches droop as the tree grows.

Buds: Winter buds on normal shoots are long-pointed and brown. Buds have many scales and are non-resinous.

Leaves: The needles survive up to 8 years and are scattered singly over the twigs. Needle length ranges from 3/4 to 1 inch and the width is approximately 1/16 inch.

Flowers: Female cones appear as purplish or red-green clusters. The brown cones are 2 to 4 inches long with three-point bracts (modified leaves) which are longer than the cone scales.

Fruits: Seeds are small, thin-shelled nuts, about ¼ inch long with terminal wings that average ¾ inch in length. A heavy seed crop can usually be expected every 5 to 7 years.

Habitat: The shade tolerant Douglas fir is most commonly found on cool, moist, north facing slopes or canyon walls. It is most abundant at elevations between 5,000 and 8,000 feet.

Special Diagnostic Characteristics: In its native habitat, a Douglas fir can grow to more than 200 feet in height. As a featured specimen the tree will grow 40 to 60 feet tall with a spread of 15 to 25 feet with the characteristic symmetrical canopy and smooth outline. The trees have similar, fairly dense pyramid-shaped crown forms with a fine texture. The species will reforest drought-plagued sites that average 16 inches or more of rain annually.