Discovering more about Douglas Fir

I’ve been intrigued recently by the perfect repetition of the little 3-pointed skinny crown-like seeds on these fir cones. It would make a great mini repeat pattern to print on cloth. It keeps catching my eye. Today I took a moment to stop and look really closely, take some photos and then refer to my tree book at home.

The cones are from the Douglas fir, which is named after Scottish botanist and collector David Douglas. In 1827 he sent the first seed from North America back to Britain. They can grow for 500 years and reach huge heights of up to 60 metres – equivalent to around 10 telegraph poles! So, not a native tree, but it must like the conditions here very much as they have thrived. So much so, that despite originally grown in this country for ornamental purposes, it is now a valuable timber tree used for construction and paper pulp. It is also used in some furniture.

The oval shaped fir-cones hang downwards with a three point bract – a special type of leaf – on every scale. There doesn’t seem to be a reason for the bract (I like that word) but it does make the cones easily identifiable.

The baby-cone flowers were out today and as I set up my sprig to take photos (I had found it on the forest floor – I didn’t pick it!) I noticed the pollen being released like little tiny wisps of white powder floating on the air when I tapped it. I would have liked to get a video of this – but my skills are not that clever.

So, I’ve done some drawing of the 3 pointed bract – and watch this space for some new print ideas soon.

Source of my facts from this article Douglas fir – Forestry and Land Scotland and here’s another great website to find out more .

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