Douglas Fir: Key Facts

Did you know that Douglas fir trees aren’t true firs? Or that some of them come close to rivaling the California Redwoods in size? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll explore these and other Douglas fir key facts.

Quick Facts About Douglas Fir

Scientific Name:Pseudotsuga
Common Names:Doug fir, Oregon pine, Douglas Spruce, Columbian pine
Type of Organism:Tree: evergreen conifer
Number of Subspecies:6
Physical Description:Tall, erect evergreen tree with thickly-needled branches. Needles are forest green to blue-green and grow oppositely from each branch. Needles are short to medium-length and pointed. Pine cones are up to 4 inches long with distinctive pointed bracts hanging down from each cell. Trees can grow 300 feet tall or more.
Distribution:Found in parts of western North America and eastern Asia
Habitat:Various coastal, temperate, and taiga habitats, including temperate rainforests and mountainous regions.
Size:Depends on subspecies; usually 40 to 300 feet tall. Tallest one is currently 327 feet.
Average Lifespan:Can live 400 to 1,000 years
Uses:– Wood is used in construction, flooring, boats and ships, siding, etc.
– Needles: Traditionally used as food and medicine

What is Douglas Fir?

The Douglas fir tree is a large, long-lived evergreen found in western North America and eastern Asia. There are six subspecies, but the trees can be broadly grouped into coastal Douglas firs and interior Douglas firs.

Coastal Douglas firs live in coastal regions of the U.S. and Canada and are one of the most common trees in the rainforests of the Pacific northwest. These trees can grow more than 300 feet tall (by comparison, the tallest Redwood is 379 feet tall) and may live for up to 1,000 years.

Interior Douglas firs are not as long-lived as coastal Douglas firs, so they don’t grow as large. These trees are found primarily in and west of the Rocky Mountains, but they can also be found as far south as parts of Mexico, as far north as southern Alaska, and in parts of China, Viet Nam, and Japan.

Douglas firs have thickly-needled branches that appear flat thanks to the growth pattern of the needles. They grow out opposing sides of the branch.

The pine cones are one of this evergreen’s most obvious identifying features. They are long and narrow, with leaf-shaped pointed husks, or bracts, hanging down from each opening.

Douglas fir produces a hard, straight-grained wood that is useful in many things, including construction, boat building, and siding. The needles have traditionally been used as food and as a medicine to treat coughs, colds, headaches, arthritis, and other conditions.

To learn more about Douglas fir trees, check out this video:

Is Douglas Fir Really a Fir?

The common names of Douglas fir can be misleading.

In addition to the name Douglas fir, this tree is also sometimes called Douglas spruce, Columbian pine, and Oregon pine. But, in reality, the Douglas fir isn’t a fir, pine, or spruce.

The scientific name can add further confusion. Pseudotsuga means “false hemlock,” referencing yet another type of evergreen tree it is sometimes confused for.

So, what is a Douglas fir, exactly?

It is simply an evergreen tree belonging to the family Pinaceae. Pseudotsuga is the genus, or the “type” of tree; the common names would lead you to believe it belongs to another genus, when in fact it is its own genus. 

Here are also some interesting facts about how to plant it and its adaptation mechanisms.


Douglas firs are evergreen trees found in the Rocky Mountains and points westward, as well as parts of Canada, Mexico, and eastern Asia. These trees, particularly those found in the Pacific northwest, are known for living an extremely long time and having the ability to grow 300 feet tall or more.

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