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Highlight: Douglas fir

Christmas greenery literally grows on trees.

Contributed photo

Even those of us who live nowhere near its natural range, live closer to Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, than we realize. Most of our homes are constructed from Douglas fir lumber.

Although very uncommon in landscaped gardens, Douglas fir is the most popular Christmas tree here. Trees introduced for timber have naturalized in parts of Europe, Argentina, Chile and New Zealand.

It is such a grand evergreen conifer that Oregon designated it as the state tree.

The tallest trees in the wild are more than 300 feet tall! Trees that do not compete within a forest do not get even a quarter as tall.

The flattened needles are less than an inch and a half long, and arranged on opposite sides of the stems. Light brown female cones with jagged bracts hang downward.

Douglas fir is a native of the West Coast between about the middle of British Columbia to the north and the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Northern Sierra Nevada to the south, with a few small colonies beyond.

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Rocky Mountain Douglas fir is another variety from farther inland.

Because it is so big and structurally deficient, Douglas fir is almost never planted into landscapes intentionally. -- Tony Tomeo