Douglas Fir — 5 Surprising Facts

  1. IT’S NOT ACTUALLY FIR.

Technically, Douglas Fir is a pine or a spruce. It is often written in botanical texts at “Douglas-fir” to keep it distinct from actual Fir species.

True firs have cones that sit upright like little owls on their branches. The Douglas fir cone hangs down and stays intact when it falls to the ground.

Douglas FirDouglas Fir

Left: Douglas Fir cone

Right: True Fir cone

See the difference?

Little owls vs. graceful art nouveau chandelier shapes.

2. IT WAS NOT NAMED AFTER A GUY NAMED DOUG.

Douglas Fir

It’s named after a guy named David. That would be David Douglas, the 19th century botanist famous for identifying a variety of Pacific NW plant species. These species are now all over the world. Also named after David? David Douglas High School and the Douglas Squirrel.

3. THE ROOF OF THE TACOMA DOME IS ONE OF THE LARGEST WOOD GEODESIC STRUCTURES IN THE WORLD.

Douglas Fir

The Tacoma Dome uses wood from the volcanic blowdown of Mount St. Helens.

How cool is THAT?

4.YOU CAN DRINK IT.

Douglas Fir

Eau de vie brandy from Clear Creek Distillery uses Doug Fir buds and runs about $50 a bottle.

5. ANCIENT HAWAIIANS USED FIR TO BUILD WAR CANOES.

Douglas Fir

Though there are no native Douglas Fir stands in Hawaii (there are a small number of trees on the grave of David Douglas who is buried there), there are evidently ancient Hawaiian canoes made of Doug Fir. It turns out that Douglas Fir logs would wash ashore in Hawaii from clear across the Pacific. The Hawaiians carved them into outrigger canoes.

Today Douglas Fir is one of the lumber products most widely in use in the world. Clear Vertical Grain Douglas Fir is particularly befitting to the custom manufacture of wood windows and doors for use in the Pacific NW due to its exceptional durability in our wet climate. We’re pretty in love with the stuff around here.

You can learn more about Doug Fir (and some of the iconic local landmarks that were built with it) at our Whiskey and Windows reception on March 19th at the Architectural Heritage Center.  Get the details and RSVP here.

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