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Woody > Pseudotsuga > Pseudotsuga macrocarpa > Pseudotsuga macrocarpa

Pseudotsuga macrocarpa

Bigcone Douglas Fir, Bigcone Spruce

Origin:  North western area of North America.
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A slow growing native evergreen, found exclusively in Southern California. Recognized by its large, unique cones and thick, horizontally fissured bark.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


Tree (evergreen)
USDA Hardiness Zone
Canadian Hardiness Zone
7b - 8a
RHS Hardiness Zone
H4 - H5
Temperature (°C)
Temperature (°F)
10 - 20
15 - 30 m
20 - 30 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
A tall broadly conical Douglas Fir, known for the largest cones in the Pseudotsuga genus. The very stiff needles and drooping branches give this tree a similar appearance to that of a spruce.
Not generally used in the landscape as it grows best in lean mountainous environments. However it is grown to protect watersheds.
Can tolerate a variety of soil requirements from bare mineral soil to deep litter. As a juvenile tree, partial shade is required and well-drained soil is preferred.
Straight as juvenile and broadly conical in maturity.
ID Characteristic
Large large cones (10 - 18 cm), consisting of spiralling bracts connected with resin. Bark is light brown/grey and made up of long, thin, bark platelets with a thick under layer of cork. The heartwood of this plant contains pockets of resin making it less stable and thus a poor choice for lumber.
Forest fires are the greatest killers of this plant. It contracts few diseases due to its growing altitude. Seeds however often succumb to fungal diseases and may fail to germinate.
Grows in the mountains of Southern California at altitudes of approximately 1,500 m. Prefers bare mineral soils found typical of the mountainous landscape.
Bark/Stem Description
Deeply ridged, brownish-grey in colour. Consists of thin, woody platelets which are covered by a thick layer of cork.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
Large heavy buds, obovate in shape and light brown in colour and generally 120 mm in length and often resinous.
Leaf Description
Dark blue-green in colour, needle shaped, approximately 2.5-5 cm in length. Leaves remain attached for five years and then are shed.
Flower Description
Circular clusters of long thin petals 3-5 cm in length and 90-120 mm wide. Petals are light pinkish-purple at the tips and graduate to a darker colour towards the throat of the flower.
Fruit Description
The female cones are 10-18 cm long, formed of bracts spiralling up a central stem connected with resin.
Colour Description
The foliage and bark remain the same colour year round, a dark blue green and light grey brown respectively. In September, the cones produced are a bright yellow and dry to a light brown by the start of October. Bright purple pink flowers bloom in March and persist onwards through mid-April.
Texture Description
It is a rough textured plant year round.
Notable Specimens
Mount St. Antonio, Southern California, United States of America.
The seeds grow best in bare mineral soils in partial shade. At lower altitudes germination commences in late March, while at higher altitudes germination ends by late May.
Bailey, L., & Bailey, E. (1976). Hortus third: A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. New York: Macmillan.