Coastal Douglas-Fir

The Coastal Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii, is an evergreen tree with 2 species native to North America. It can grow up to 100 m tall and up to 5 meters in diameter. In the past, periodic wildfires created vast, almost pure stands of coastal Dougals-fir forests throughout the Pacific North West region of North America.

The Douglas-fir is not an apex plant species despite it's massive size. The largest known Douglas-fir is located on Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, and the oldest specimen was also found on Vancouver Island with 1350 rings. The tree was knocked down in a storm in the winter of 1985-1986, giving the opportunity to date it.

Douglas-fir can come close in size to the giant redwoods, it once thrived on low-land areas near the ocean, but now most of the original old-growth Douglas-fir has been logged and the land converted to urban settings.

 

Range

In BC, the Douglas-fir is mostly found in the lower mainland and on the low-lying areas of southeastern Vancouver Island. Most of this area is relatively heavily populated and developed into urban areas for people and infrastructure, as a result, the Douglas-fir has lost quite a significant portion of its original habitat.

Climate

The climate in southwestern BC is very mild. Long, wet and mild winters where there is a lot of precipitation, and sunny, relatively dry summer season characterize the range of Douglas-fir in BC.

Vegetation

As most of the current Douglas-firs are second-growth, and that there have been artificial efforts to grow them into ornamental trees. Douglas-fir is a pioneer species, having a thicker bark and faster growth rates than other climax trees in its range. It shares dominance with the Western Hemlock in the Pacific Northwest.

Douglas-fir - young tree; second growth in landscaping; foliage; cone - click to see full pictures

Wildlife

Douglas-fir has a relatively small range in BC, and most of this area is urban development. Squirrels, minks, birds, certain amphibians make their home in the remaining Douglas-fir forests in British Columbia.

Resources

As the wood of the Douglas-fir is very sturdy, it is often used in structural applications that requires the material to withstand high loads. Interestingly enough, the Hawaiians made their war canoes from the Douglas-firs that have drifted there from the west coast of North America. Other items made from the Douglas-firs include paddles, bowls, spoons, caskets. It is used extensively in landscaping as well.

Douglas-fir Canoes - under construction; war canoes being used in canoeing competitions - click to see full pictures