The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

'Tis the season when many people purchase decorative conifer trees; otherwise they own some ersatz version thereof. No option exists in our household because we are of the most firm opinion that only a natural tree will do.

On an ecological basis cut conifers are grown as a crop and can be fully recycled. So here is your holiday conifer primer. 1. Evergreen is not synonymous with "pine tree" or "conifer". 2. The vast majority of trees sold this time of year are firs, douglas-firs, or pines, and these are three different genera (AbiesPseudotsuga, and Pinus respectively). 3. Douglas-fir is not a true fir, but most confusingly it's also called Oregon pine and Douglas spruce. See the problem with common names? 

Here's how you tell these three genera apart. One pines needles are in clusters or bundles of 2, 3, or 5. The other genera have needles borne singly upon the twigs. The common pine species sold as cut trees have two (Scotch) or 5 needles (white pine). Firs and Douglas-firs have different buds at the end of twigs. Firs have resinous buds, that is coated in resin, and rounded in shape. Douglas-firs are smooth, dry, and conical. Distinguishing among the various species of firs is too tricky for verbal descriptions.


Although the Douglas fir might still rank as one of the most popular trees to load Christmas gifts under, the species has become increasingly difficult to care for and a new unidentified threat has some growers especially concerned.

Douglases have traditionally been plagued by three archenemies: two different types fungal diseases known as “needle casts” that cause needle loss, and phytophthora — also called root rot — which is exacerbated by wet weather.

Because 2011 was so wet, the root rot has been particularly troublesome for Douglas firs.

To fight these threats, tree farmers have to spray their trees down weekly, sometimes starting the laborious and expensive process as early as May.

While healthy Douglas firs are still available at most farms, the species remains the most vulnerable.


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Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?

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