Herb: Douglas Fir

Latin name: Pseudotsuga menziesii

Synonyms: Abies douglasii, Abies menziesii, Pinus taxifolia, Pseudotsuga douglasii, Pseudotsuga taxifolia

Family: Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Medicinal use of Douglas Fir:

Douglas fir was often employed medicinally by various native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. An antiseptic resin is obtained from the trunk. It is used as a poultice to treat cuts, burns, wounds and other skin ailments. The poultice is also used to treat injured or dislocated bones. The resin is used in the treatment of coughs and can be chewed as a treatment for sore throats. An infusion of the green bark has been used in the treatment of excessive menstruation, bleeding bowels and stomach problems. An infusion of the leaves has been used as a wash and a sweat bath for rheumatic and paralyzed joints. An infusion of the young sprouts has been used in the treatment of colds. An infusion of the twigs or shoots has been used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems. A decoction of the buds has been used in the treatment of venereal disease. Young shoots have been placed in the tips of shoes to keep the feet from perspiring and to prevent athletes foot. A mouthwash is made by soaking the shoots in cold water.

Description of the plant:


75 m
(246 feet)

to May


Habitat of the herb:

Moist to very dry areas from sea level to near the tree-line in the Rocky mountains. The best specimens are found on well-drained deep loamy soils with plenty of moisture.

Edible parts of Douglas Fir:

Young shoot tips - used as a flavouring in cooked foods. A subtle woodsy flavour. A refreshing tea is made from the young leaves and twigs. Rich in vitamin C. It is used as a coffee substitute according to some reports. The fresh leaves have a pleasant balsamic odour and are used as a coffee substitute. Inner bark - dried, ground into a meal and mixed with cereals for making bread etc. A famine food used when all else fails. A sweet manna-like substance is exuded from the bark. This report possibly refers to the resin that is obtained from the trunk, and is used as a chewing gum by various native North American Indian tribes. Alternatively, the report could be referring to the sap which is used as a sugar-like food.

Other uses of the herb:

A light brown dye is obtained from the bark. The bark is a source of tannins. The bark can be used as a cork substitute and is also used to make fertilizer. The bark contains pitch, it burns with a lot of heat and almost no smoke, so it is prized as a fuel. The small roots have been used to make baskets. The plant has insecticidal properties. A resin is obtained from the trunk, similar to Abies balsamea which is used in the manufacture of glues, candles, as a cement for microscopes and slides and also as a fixative in soaps and perfumery. The resin can also be used as a caulking material on boats. A fast growing and fairly wind-resistant tree, it is often used in shelterbelt plantings. Wood - heavy, strong, fine grained, durable, though it can be of variable quality. It dries quickly, does not warp and is easily worked, it is used for heavy construction, telegraph poles, furniture etc. It is also used as a good quality fuel.

Propagation of Douglas Fir:

Seed - best sown in the autumn to winter in a cold frame so that it is stratified. The seed can also be stored dry and sown in late winter. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Seedlings tolerate light shade for their first few years of growth. Cones often fall from the tree with their seed still inside. If you have plenty of seed then it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed in early spring. Grow the plants on for at least two years in the seedbed before planting them out in late autumn or early spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moist to very dry areas from sea level to near the tree-line in the Rocky mountains. The best specimens are found on well-drained deep loamy soils with plenty of moisture.

Known hazards of Pseudotsuga menziesii:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.