Douglas Fir

Photograph of a douglas fir tree.

Douglas Fir Coniferous

Pseudotsuga menziesii

"Doug firs" are one of the most important timber trees in the United States. It is harvested for a wide variety of uses and is the backbone of the western timber industry. The wood has great strength and yet it is not very heavy. 

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Where To Grow

It can be grown in most parts of Nebraska and Iowa. It prefers a well-drained soil and it will also do much better if it is planted in groups of at least three trees. Douglas fir, like some of the other spruce and fir species, can be susceptible to windthrow and that is a negative in the prairie states. Some texts will say it does not adapt well out of its range but don’t let that discourage you. There are many good specimens in Nebraska.
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Suitable to plant throughout the state.
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Size at Maturity

Tree Height Tree Spread
30-50' 15-25'
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Tree Characteristics

Douglas fir is an evergreen tree that keeps its foliage year round. The one inch long needles are flat with a pointed tip and range in color from blue-green to dark green. The tree has an upright pyramidal shape that becomes less defined with age. The tree grows at a medium pace, adding 13"-24" a year. 

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Wildlife Benefits

The seed of Douglas-fir is an important food for chickadees, red crossbill, finches (house and purple), evening grosbeak, Douglas squirrel, Townsend chipmunk, deer, meadow mice, shrews, and many other birds and mammals. Of course, you won't find all of these in Nebraska. 

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Additional Considerations

While the tree has its share of insect and disease enemies in its natural range, it is relatively pest free in this part of the country although long periods of drought can be a problem. Although it is seldom used, it makes an excellent tree for windbreaks on adapted soils. It is also excellent for restoring eroded lands, watersheds, and strip-mined areas.

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Interesting Facts

  • Douglas fir is not a “true” fir like white fir or balsam fir. It is, in fact, a species unto itself and is totally unique.
  • Douglas-fir needles were made into a tea and drank by Isleta Puebloans in New Mexico to cure rheumatism. 
Additional Images (click to enlarge)
Photograph of a douglas fir tree.
Photograph of a douglas fir tree's bark.
Photograph of a Douglas fir tree's pine cone.