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Douglas fir trees at Loch Doilet

The majestic Douglas fir is named after Scottish botanist and collector David Douglas who, in 1827, sent the first seed from North America back to Britain. Its botanical name - Pseudotsuga menziesii - commemorates Archibald Menzies, who discovered the tree in 1791.

botanical drawings of douglas fir

Facts and stats

  • Lifespan: 500 years.
  • Height: The Douglas fir can grow to be very tall indeed, and can grow up to 60 metres in Britain.
  • Leaves: It has soft needles with two grey bands underneath.
  • Seeds: The oval shaped cones hang downwards with a three point bract - a special type of leaf - on every scale.
  • Bark: Douglas fir’s bark is a reddish-brown, fissured and corky.
  • Native to: From British Columbia to California.
  • Uses: The Douglas fir is the major timber species in its native North America, and its imported timber is sold here as ‘Oregon pine’. Originally grown in this country for ornamental purposes, it is now a valuable timber tree used for sawmill timber and paper pulp. Today the timber is used for construction work, high quality plywood and veneers, as well as for furniture and panelling.

Famous Douglas fir trees in Scotland

Britain's tallest trees

Inverness’ Reelig Glen is home to four of the tallest trees in Britain. The impressive Dughall Mor - Gaelic for 'big dark stranger' in Gaelic - held the record from 2005 until 2014 when it was overtaken by an even taller neighbour measuring 66.4m.

Drumlanrig Douglas fir

Head to the Duke of Buccleuch’s Drumlanrig Estate and feast your eyes on one of the original firs David Douglas introduced back in 1827. The botanist’s brother worked on the estate as a clerk.

The Hermitage Douglas and the Dunkeld Douglas

Get two Douglas firs for the price of one, at The Hermitage woodland, near Dunkeld. One of the trees is amongst the tallest in the UK, standing at 59 metres, while the other which resides next to nearby Dunkeld Cathedral boasts a girth of seven metres.

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