Young Douglas firs are often confused with the true firs (Abies species) because their bark is smooth and the needles soft; but the buds are long, brown and sharp, whereas those of the true firs are round. The easiest way to identify this species is from the cones. In their native area there is a tale about an Indian chief who was sitting under a tree meditating, but mice kept bothering him. The chief shouted at them angrily, and then again, even louder. The mice got such a fright that they hid in the tree’s cones – and they are still there to this day! Only the tail and back feet can be seen; nowadays we call them bracts.
Douglas fir is one of the most important conifers at Mustila due to its enormous size in the landscape and also its beautiful valuable timber. The best specimens are over 40m tall and still growing. However, the provenance of the seed is important: the coastal provenances aren’t hardy in Finnish conditions, while extremely continental provenances are troubled by disease; added to these problems, provenances from too far south, where there are attractive silver grey mountain forms, only maintain good foliage in very open areas.