Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Doug, Doug Fir

Meet Doug. He Built Seattle.
Chances are, if you have an older house in South Seattle, at least some part of it is constructed from Douglas Fir wood. It was readily available, locally milled and grown, and easy to work with. Everything from the framing, to windows to flooring in some older homes is made from Douglas Fir. They even paved the sidewalks and streets with it, before laying brick and other more permanent road surfaces down. 

When the pioneers first came to what is now Seattle, it was a forest, dominated by huge Douglas Fir trees, hemlock and other native species. You can recognize the old wood by its wide, pine like grain of dark orange against a lighter orange or cream color. It’s also a pretty soft wood, a fact that those of you with fir floors like ours are probably well aware of. Like most coastal evergreens, it is somewhat resistant to rot and moisture and has a wonderful smell when freshly cut.

Douglas Fir is not a Fir in the true sense. After long taxonomic discussions between the experts, it eventually ended up in it’s own scientific moniker Pseudotsuga Menziesii. It is a generally fast growing, deep rooted, and a long lived tree, often grown for Christmas Trees and particularly suited to the local climate of wet winters and dry summers. In ideal conditions and left alone a long time, these trees can top over 350 feet, with some unique specimens on record reaching over 400.

Local parks such as Kubota Gardens and Seward Park have some nice specimens of Douglas Fir, but before you run out to plant this native tree in your garden, keep their fast growth and large size in mind. They also have a tendency to shed their lower branches, which in a mature tree, can be substantial logs capable of serious damage to cars, buildings, power lines and people.

More on Doug, our local wonder tree-






Reprinted with permission from the Southend Seattle Blog-

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