Meriwether Lewis

The Douglas-Fir

Today Meriwether Lewis described a tree he referred to in his journal as "Fir No. 5."
The tree in question was the Douglas-fir.
Later, on February 9, Lewis added more details about the fir and sketched the distinctive bract of the cone in his journal. On their way back across the northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana, Lewis and Clark would encounter the inland variation of the species, the Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir.
The Douglas-Fir gets its name from the botanist David Douglas, who was the first to grow the tree in England successfully.
When Douglas met an early death, his friend and teacher, the botanist John Goldie, planted a Douglas-Fir next to his house to remember his young friend.
The lifespan of a Douglas-Fir Tree ranges from 500 to 1,000 years. And, Douglas-Firs are very large trees - reaching heights of 60 feet tall and up to 25 feet wide. In the wild, they sometimes reach over 200 feet tall. This massive tree is too big for residential landscaping. The bark of a Douglas Fir gets thicker over time, and that dense layer of bark enables the tree to survive forest fires with only some blackened bark.

This post was featured on
The Daily Gardener podcast:

helping gardeners find their roots,
one story at a time
Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis

Leave a Comment