A large, broadly-conical tree to 30 m or more tall. Lower branches long, sometimes arching almost to the ground, tips drooping. Bark of older trees corky and deeply fissured. Young shoots brown, ridged. Buds shining, pointed, beech-like, red-brown. Leaves dark green, soft, straight, blunt, 3-4 cm long with 2 white bands below, aromatic when crushed; margins often curled under. Female cones scattered through the canopy, c. 7-9 cm long 2.5-3.5 cm wide with many scales; bracts 3-pronged, protruding from the scales, the central prong being longer than the outer two.
In America widely distributed from coastal areas to inland to altitudes of 2500 m but growing best in humid, wet conditions. Commonly cultivated in large public and private gardens, especially in cool districts. Naturalised on the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
Western North America.
After P. radiata, an extremely important world timber tree but it is not grown commercially in Australia as the growth is too slow, requiring high rainfall and humidity, cool winters and mild summers. The high summer temperatures, strong winds and low humidity that are found in Canberra prohibit growth. In Victoria trial plantations may be seen at Creswick, Otways (Aire Valley), Narbethong and elsewhere, although growth is better in Tasmania and New Zealand. While the tree is generally known as Douglas Fir the timber is referred to as Oregon.
Buds large, ovoid-conic, sharp-pointed and beech-like in contrast to the more rounded ones in
; leaves smelling of oranges when crushed and with a minute disk which leaves a smaller oval rather than round scar as in Abies; cones with 3-pronged bracts protruding from the scales.
NSW: Batlow (Pilot Hill Arboretum); Mt Tomah (Bot. Gds); Mt Wilson ('Cherry Cottage' c. 40 m; 'Yengo' ptd c. 1887); Orange (Base Hospital, N side of Dalton St); Sydney (Royal Bot. Gds). VIC: Aire Valley (Otways, plantation at Beauchamp Falls by picnic site, also road N of Aire River crossing, signed plantation on side of Binns Rd); Ballarat (Bot. Gds); Belgrave ('Glen Harrow' old Coles Nursery site, 48 m tall in 1990); Black Spur (at top of spur, 2 trees on side of road); Dandenongs ('Pirianda'); Daylesford (Bot. Gds); Erica (several roadside trees); Fernshaw (Reserve several ptd. c. 1939); Healesville (southern end of township &Coranderrk Reserve); Korumburra (Public Park); Maroondah (dam many); Mt Macedon ('Alton' c. 50 m; 'Frencham'); Narbethong ('St Fillans', 43 m tall in 1994); Walhalla (N end of township). TAS: Deloraine (Meander River Reserve; St Marks Anglican Church); Hobart (Queens Domain; St David's Park; Royal Tasmanian Bot. Gds); Lalla (WAG Walker Arboretum); Launceston (Cataract Gorge); Plenty (Salmon Ponds); Westbury (Common).
var. glauca (Mayr) Franco
This is the Blue Douglas Fir, smaller and more compact than the Oregon Douglas Fir. Branches ascending. Leaves shorter, thicker and bluer than in the typical variety, also distributed round the shoot, not parted beneath. Cones smaller, with reflexed bracts. A variety that is found naturally at high elevations in the Rocky Mountains.
VIC: Dandenongs (Hamer Arboretum ptd 1974); Emerald (many large trees, one lakeside others on slopes); Lancefield (Recreation Reserve); Maroondah (dam); Mt Macedon ('Alton'; 'Frencham'); Yackandandah (3 street trees).
Source: (1995). Pinaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1, Ferns, conifers & their allies. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.