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What Is the State Tree of Oregon? How Was It Decided?

douglas fir trees

The state tree of Oregon is the Douglas fir. This is a fitting choice for a number of reasons. First, Douglas fir trees are native to Oregon, and they grow extremely well in the state. Douglas firs are some of the largest trees in North America. They are large, recognizable, and unique. Douglas firs also have a connection to the man David Douglas who was an early explorer of Oregon.

For these reasons, the Douglas fir made a natural and perfect choice to be the official state tree of Oregon.

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Douglas Fir Facts

Douglas Fir trees_Jacquie Klose_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Jacquie Klose, Shutterstock
Scientific name Pseudotsuga menziensii
Height 70 – 300+ feet
Age 500+ years

Douglas fir trees are large and regal evergreen trees native to the Pacific Northwest. Despite their name, Douglas firs are actually not natural fir trees. Fir trees are part of the Abies family. Douglas firs are from a family known as false hemlocks.

Douglas firs are recognizable because they are a popular choice for Christmas trees. Their color, shape, and size are all reminiscent of a classic Christmas tree. Douglas fir trees can live for an extremely long time in ideal conditions. The wetter and milder the climate, the larger and older a Douglas fir can get. The largest examples of Douglas fir trees can soar to heights exceeding 300 feet. The oldest Douglas firs are also estimated to be upwards of 1000 years old.

Douglas firs are cultivated and harvested for their lumber. They produce very nice white wood that has a tight grain and can be used in a variety of different ways, including construction, carpentry, and woodworking.

Douglas firs are named for David Douglas, the explorer, and botanist who discovered them and introduced them to Europe. David Douglas is also known for his exploration of the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. Douglas introduced a number of new species of trees to a European audience. Douglas’s connection to the Pacific Northwest, including the lands that would one day become Oregon, made his namesake and tree the perfect choice for Oregon.

douglas fir trees
Image Credit: Sharon Snider, Shutterstock

How The Douglas Fir Was Chosen

The recommendation for the Douglas fir to become the official state tree of Oregon was made by the organization Daughters of the American Revolution. The Daughters of the American Revolution is an old and respected non-profit made up of women who are directly descended from people who partook in the American Revolution. The Oregon state legislature took up the recommendation and crafted legislation to make the Douglas fir the official state tree.

The bill to make the Douglas fir the state tree of Oregon was passed in 1939. At the time, naming a state tree was not universal. Oregon was just the eighth state in the Union to name an official state tree.

The Douglas fir was an instant hit. There was little debate. The tree is so connected to Oregon that it made for a natural choice. Not only are Douglas firs large and hardy, they are deeply connected to Oregon itself. Douglas fir trees were an important part of Oregon’s early timber and logging industries. The trees are also instantly recognizable because of their size and shape.

After the bill passed in 1939, the Douglas fir became the official state tree of Oregon. It has remained the state tree ever since and remains an extremely popular species in the state.

Since the passing of the legislation codifying the Oregon state tree, the state has passed 17 additional resolutions naming official things for Oregon. Some of the other official state objects include the state fossil, state fruit, state nut, state motto, and more.

judge working on documents
Image Credit: Freedomz, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Douglas firs are the perfect choice for the state of Oregon. It is no wonder it passed with great popular support in 1939. The tree is recognizable and large. It is connected to the land and the history of the state. It is named for a man who explored Oregon’s coasts long before the area became a state. There were no other trees that could hold the same place in Oregon’s heart as the Douglas fir.


Featured Image Credit: Robert Crum, Shutterstock

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