The easiest way to tell that a tree is a Douglas-Fir is to look at its cone
s. If there aren't any on the tree, they're probably lying on the ground all around.
Underneath each of the scale
s of a Douglas-Fir cone is a funny-shaped lesser scale, known as a bract
. Each bract has a long central stalk with a pointed wing on each side. Each bract strongly resembles a little mouse
trying to escape into the cone. Pine
s and fir
s don't have these bracts; larch
es have wingless ones.
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If for some reason you can't find a cone to identify the tree, pull a needle off one of its branches. A Douglas-fir needle will have a small foot (called a petiole
) at the base, and the branch will have a small raised area where the needle was. In contrast, if you pull a needle off a true fir
, it will be the same thickness throughout and the branch will have a small depression.