Timberpedia - Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir

Latin Name: Irish Name: Native to Ireland?
Pseudotsuga menziesii   No

About the Tree

Introduced to Ireland in 1850

Distribution & Provenance

Douglas fir is the most common forest tree of north west America where it grows in association
with Sitka spruce and western red cedar. Its natural range is along the Pacific coast from British
Columbia to California and inland as far east as Colorado and New Mexico. Pockets of Douglas fir
are also found in Mexico. The species was first introduced to Europe by David Douglas in 1827.
Research and experience have shown that Coastal Washington and Oregon provenances of Douglas
fir are best suited for growth in Ireland while mountain and inland provenances do not do well
here. Despite its name, Douglas fir is not a true fir.

Non Timber Benefits

Douglas fir is a moderately shade tolerant species and this, allied to its ability to grow to very large
sizes, makes it an ideal species to use when practicing continuous cover silvicultural systems. The
species has the ability to grow to an enormous size and when left to do so becomes a truly majestic
spectacle. Douglas fir woods give off a distinctive fragrance which is instantly recognisable when
the timber is cut or branches pruned. When crushed in the hand, Douglas fir needles give a strong
citrus fragrance.

Position in Irish Forestry

Douglas fir was first introduced to Ireland in 1850 and was initially planted on old woodland sites.
While excellent state plantations of Douglas fir were harvested in County Wicklow, along the Suir
valley and at Ravensdale in Co. Louth, attempts were made later to establish Douglas fir on more
upland sites but greater exposure and drainage problems led to poor crops and as a result, the
species lost favour in Irish forestry for a number of years. However, Douglas fir has again become a
popular choice amongst foresters on more suitable lowland and sheltered sites. Irish nurseries
produce and sell approximately 800,000 Douglas fir transplants each year. Coillte, the Irish Forestry
Board, currently manage an area of over 8,750 hectares of Douglas fir.
(Dept Marine, Communications & Natural Resources)

About the Wood

Uses & Markets

Douglas fir produces a distinctive timber with a reddish brown heartwood and well defined growth
rings. Douglas fir timber is often traded as “Oregon pine”. Its durable nature makes it a popular
outdoor timber and it is used for garden furniture, boat building and in log cabins & sheds. It has
good strength and finishing qualities and is used as a structural timber in both domestic and public
buildings. In Ireland, it is a preferred species for transmission poles, especially for high tension
electricity lines due to the long lengths available.
(Dept Marine, Communications & Natural Resources)

Pseudotsuga glauca forest Douglas Fir in Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Douglas fir cone Female cone
Pseudotsuga menziesii 01221 A snag provides nest cavities for birds
About the TimberPedia

Know your wood! The Timberpedia is a broad resource that aims to catalogue all the major tree species in Ireland, containing information that we’ve gathered from over two decades maintaining our natural woodland and serving Ireland’s woodworking industry.

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