Douglas-fir is not a true fir, so the official name is written with a hyphen to differentiate it from true fir trees (such as Grand Fir). The Douglas-fir grows to 20-100 metres tall, but the tallest trees are only found on the B.C. coast. Its cones have three forked bracts on each scale. The bark is reddish brown, deeply grooved and can grow over 30 centimetres thick. This thick bark is used as a defence against fire and insects. Bears like to rip it off to eat the sap underneath.
RANGE & HABITAT
The Douglas-fir is found in western Canada, the US and northern Mexico. It can be found in a range of regions from rocky, dry mountainous areas to temperate rainforests. In B.C., this plant grows in the Georgia Depression, Southern Interior, Southern Interior Mountains, Central Interior, Sub-Boreal Interior and Coast Mountains ecoprovinces.
Douglas-fir is a quick growing tree in its early years. The cones of the tree are green when they are young and turn brown as they age. The thick bark is used as a defence against fire and insects. Douglas-fir is often one of the first tree species to grow after a fire, and they often survive through very hot fires because of their thick bark.
The seeds are eaten by birds and mammals. Tussock moth caterpillars feed on the needles of the Douglas-fir; when they hatch they first feed on new foliage and as they mature they began to eat all leaves. The Douglas-fir’s seeds are eaten by birds and mammals. Bears like to rip off the bark and eat the sap underneath.
TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES
The wood of the Douglas-fir was used for fires, fishing hooks and snowshoes. Its branches were used for bedding and the seeds of the tree were eaten.
It is used in heavy-duty construction because it creates very strong, beautiful wood for floors and house beams.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk
Photo: Paula Steele