The Douglas fir is a native of North America growing from California up to British Columbia. It was introduced in Europe in 1828 and is widely cultivated today in the woods and parks of western and central Europe because of its rapid growth and high quality wood. It is a large tree, attaining heights of 50 metres and double this in its homeland. It is easily recognized by the sharp-pointed, reddish-brown buds and ovoid cones, with three-lobed, exserted bracts. The needles are flattened, and stand out all around the twig. The bark of old trees is divided into thick ridges separated by deep fissures. The Douglas fir likes partial shade, and is adapted to a long vegetation period and light frosts. It finds optimal conditions in areas with a coastal climate, in Great Britain, Denmark, northern Germany and France.
The related form Pseudotsuga glauca Mayr. Grows in the Rocky Mountains at heights above 2000 metres. It has a thinner and less deeply furrowed bark, blue-green needles and cones with reflexed bracts. It has a slower rate of growth and is more suitable as an ornamental.
Needles: Flattened, with two greenish-white bands at the base, 20—35 mm long by 1.5 mm wide; when crushed between the fingers they give off a sharp scent.
Cones: Ovoid, with three-lobed exserted bracts, 5—10 cm long by 2—3 cm wide.