Westerners familiar with their forests may think they know the Douglas fir – but how well do they? Douglas firs are found in the continental northwest from British Columbia to as far south as Oaxaca, Mexico. They flourish in the Cascades, Rocky Mountains, Sierra, and other mountain ranges, as well as in desert valleys.
Incredibly hardy, this tree adopts various strategies to occupy more kinds of habitats than any other native tree, even becoming an uncontrollable invader in some regions, crowding out ponderosa pines, western larch, aspen groves, and mountain grasslands. Yet the utility of this noble species is immense. Douglas firs yield more high-quality construction lumber than any other tree in the world.
Most intriguing of all, perhaps, is that the story of the Douglas fir has gone untold. Douglas Fir fills this literary gap and presents an engaging profile of the Douglas fir and its relationship to people, commerce, culture, and wilderness.
Stephen F. Arno holds a PhD in forestry and plant science and is retired from a career as a research forester with the US Forest Service. Since 1973, he has authored or co-authored six books about forests and trees, including two Mountaineers Books titles, Northwest Trees and Timberline.
Carl E. Fiedler has a PhD in forestry and ecology and is a retired professor from the University of Montana. Steve and Carl have coauthored two previous books together. They reside in Missoula, Montana.
"This book is a gift to those of us who love trees. It reflects decades of observation and research by two dedicated scientists, but is far more than a simple botanical treatise about a dominant forest tree. The authors not only tell the story of Douglas-fir as a species but describe in fascinating detail how our human relationship with this iconic, 'truly extraordinary' tree has shaped our ecosystems, our history, our economy and our cultures in so many different ways. This affectionate yet rigorously documented book should be a must for any library specializing in environment, history or politics."
– Nancy J. Turner, ethnobotanist and professor emeritus, environmental studies, U of Victoria
"Marshalling a wide range of botanical, ecological, historical, and cultural insights together, Douglas Fir contains powerful perspectives on an iconic tree."
– Kristen Rabe, Foreword Reviews
"A seamless and engaging history [...] The narrative includes historical photos and detailed sketches and is followed by a visitor's guide to notable North American Douglas-firs – altogether a trip-inspiring package."
– Lauren O'Brien, Shelf Awareness
"The Douglas-fir of North America is an outstanding tree in many respects. Its beauty, great size and age, and role as a keystone species have given it a central emotional, spiritual and ecological role in the celebrated old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. For over 6,000 years humans in western North America have had a close cultural relationship with this species, and today, it is widely planted on six continents and ranks as the most economically important softwood timber species in the world. Arno and Fiedler have captured the cultural and ecological diversity of this extraordinary tree in a detailed and engrossing study that weaves science, history, and insight into a memorable book that will be enjoyed by all who love the native forests of the West."
– Chris Earle, forest ecologist and founder of Conifers.org
"The Douglas-fir literally and figuratively stands among the giants of Earth's trees and has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape and culture of the American West. I can't imagine a better team than Arno and Fiedler to tell us its story – for the general reader and scientist alike – with vividness, clarity, insight, and deep scientific understanding."
– Peter Stark, author of Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire
"Arno and Fielder have crafted an insightful and engaging paean to the Pacific Northwest's most important tree. This is a book for anyone who wants to understand not only the ecological story of Douglas-fir but also how these majestic trees shaped the economic story of Puget Sound and the entire region."
– David B. Williams, author of Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle's Topography