Sunnyside Conifers



 Named both for the Scots botanist explorer, David Douglas, and Captain  Vancouver’s medical officer, Archibald Menzies,  also Scottish, is an important timber species. It has a tall cylindrical trunk, a short, flattish crown and can grow to 40 m or more. Its needle leaves are 2 to 3cm long, often sharp-pointed, bright green above and paler on the underside and stand out from three sides of the twig.  Cones are 10 to 15 long and are distinguished by three-pronged bracts growing out from the cone scales – rare feature.  On older trees the bark is thick and noticeably rough.


The coastal sub-species  is light-demanding and does not grow well in wet soils. The oldest trees in the Forest  are now 80 to 90 years but, barring accident, are likely to survive for another 5 or 6 centuries.



One of B.C.’s longest-lived species [1000 years]] was named B.C.’s provincial tree in 1988  because of its significance to First Nations’ culture and life style and also because of its current industrial value.] It can grow to a massive size with a buttressed base, dense, irregular crown and, frequently, dead branches. It has a shallow, spreading root system and grows well in moist or well-watered sites. The scale-like leaves growing  in opposite, 4-ranked pairs are yellowish green until turning brown and dying at about 3 years. The small cones grow in  clusters are initially green but turn brown as they mature.   The wood is light, has a good strength-to-weight ratio and is durable because of the aromatic oils which develop as the wood ages.



A tall, long-lived tree with an open crown and characteristically  drooping leading shoot. The needles are blunt, irregular and quite small (5 to 20mm) with two parallel whitish bands of stomata (pores) on the underside. Cones  are small but numerous dispersing seeds in autumn and falling in the following spring. The bark, scaly and brownish when young, darkens and develops shallow flattened ridges with age. From being a discounted species in the early days of timber harvesting it is now one of the principal commercial timber species.


A close relative, mountain hemlock, grows at higher elevations and does not occur in the Forest



There are only a very few specimens in the Forest; one young one is just behind the information kiosk in the north-west corner of the parking lot. It is also the largest of the Canadian firs growing to over 30m.  The stem is lightly branched with a cylindrical crown.  Needles are shiny green in horizontally-spreading rows, which distinguish it from Douglas-fir with needles on three sides of the twigs, grooved on the upper surface and with two whitish rows of stomata on the underside.  When crushed they have a pleasant aromatic smell. Cones, about 10cm,  stand prominently upright on branches until they break up in fall. The smoothish, gray-brown bark is pock-marked with resin blisters.