Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco

Douglas-fir

Pinus taxifolia

Pinus taxifolia (= syn.)

Photo credit: Original from Descr. Pinus courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library - (provided by Missouri Botanical Garden) modified to provide labels.


Family: Pinaceae

Genus: Pseudotsuga

Category: Tree - Evergreen

Zones: 4 to 6

Size: 40' to 200'

Growth Rate: Fast

Exposure: Sun

Description: 

Makes a good Christmas Tree! Protect from high winds, moist acid soil. Important timber tree in Britain and the US. Pyramidal form, lower branches drooping with age.

History: 

Native to western Canada and western US + New Mexico and Texas.

Published in Bol. Soc. Brot. ser. 2, 24: 74 in 1950 and in Conif. Duarum Nominibus 4 in 1950.

Basionym is Abies menziezii Mirb. discovered by Archibald Menzies in 1792 on Vancouver Island. Introduced by David Douglas in 1827.

The taxonomy is a mess - see Douglas-Fir - A Nomenclatural Morass or PlantSystematics for greater detail but here's a summary:

1803 Pinus taxifolia Lamb. (in Desc. Pinus) based on the Menzies specimen at the Natural History Museum in London, but this was a homonym which had been used by Salisbury in 1796 for a different conifer.

1805 Abies taxifolia Poir. based on the Menzies specimen, also a homonym.

1806 Lewis & Clark discovered the tree and described it as "Fir No 5".

1825 and 1830 David Douglas collected seeds and specimens for RHS.

1825 Abies menziezii Mirb. - proposed this as a new name for Abies taxifolia Poir. which was taxonomically incorrect. His proposal was ignored until 1950.

1832 Abies mucronata Raf. based on Lewis' description of Fir No 5.

1832 Pinus douglasii Sabine ex D.Don (name suggested by Sabine) based on the plants collected by Douglas now at Kew - published in Desc. Pinus

1833 Abies douglasii (Sabine ex D.Don) Lind. - Pinus douglasii Sabine ex D.Don renamed - common name Douglas-Fir - this common name remained even though the scientific name was still to change again.

1867 Pseudotsuga douglasii (Sabine ex D.Don) Carrière proposed based on Pinus douglasii.

1889 Pseudotsuga taxifolia (Lind.) Britton proposed by Nathaniel Britton who was the founder of the New York Botanical Garden - because Pinus taxifolia was proposed earlier than Pinus douglasii. This ignored the fact that Pinus taxifolia was illegitimate so "taxifolia" was not available.

1895 Pseudotsuga mucronata (Raf.) Sudw. ex Holz. suggested based on the idea that Abies mucronata was earlier than Pinus douglasii. But this was not the case. A year later, Sudworth was supporting Pseudotsuga taxifolia in a slightly modified form. These two forms, plus

Pseudotsuga mucronata and Pseudotsuga douglasii were all used, with another minor modification in 1938, until 1950.

1950 Franco discovered that Abies taxifolia Poir. was a later homonym and he found the name Abies menziezii Mirb. This meant that "taxifolia" was not available and that the first legitimate name published was Abies menziezii. So he proposed Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco and the name was accepted in 1953 and remained unchallenged ever since.


Sources of Information

© 2010-12 Lisa J. Miner