Northwest Conifers


Low-elevation Conifers

These conifers grow at elevations below 2000 feet in northwest Oregon and western Washington. All but Sitka Spruce also grow at higher elevations.

Common Low-elevation Conifers

Douglas Fir – Pseudotsuga menziesii

Douglas fir

Needles: All around twig, thin, soft points, 

Cones: 3-pointed bracts

Bark: Gray with deep, brown furrows on large trunks

Where: Below 5000 feet (1500 m)

Grand Fir – Abies grandis

Grand Fir

Needles: Flattened on twig, white lines below

Cones: Upright at tree top

Bark: Smooth, gray, small furrows on large trunks

Where: Below 5000 feet (1500 m)

Western Hemlock –Tsuga heterophylla

Western Hemlock

Needles: Short, flat, irregular, white lines below

Cones: Small. Rounded scales

Bark: Small furrows, gray

Where: Below 4000 feet (1200 m)

Has drooping top

Western Red Cedar – Thuja plicata

Western Red Cedar

Leaves: Flat, scaled, white butterflies below

Cones: Tiny, rose-shaped

Bark: Brown, stringy

Where: Wet areas below 5000 feet (1500 m)

Rare Low-elevation Conifers

Pacific Yew – Taxus brevifolia

Pacific Yew

Needles: Flattened on twig, lighter green underneath

Cone: Red berry-like aril

Bark: Thin, gray scales over smooth red bark

Where: Wet shady areas below 5000 feet (1500 m)

Ponderosa Pine – Pinus ponderosa

Ponderosa Pine

Needles: Bundles of 3

Cones: Egg shaped

Bark: Orange puzzle pieces

Where: Rare west of the Cascades. Common east of the Cascades below 5000 feet (1500 m).

Conifers found on the Pacific Coast

Sitka Spruce – Picea sitchensis

Sitka Spruce

Needles: All around twig, sharp points

Cones: Douglas fir size, paper-thin scales

Bark: Gray, scaly

Where: Near the coast and Columbia River

Lodgepole Pine – Pinus contorta

Lodgepole Pine

Needles: Bundles of 2

Cones: Egg shape and size

Bark: Dark gray, scaly

Where: Along the coast and above 3000 feet (900 m) in the Cascades


© 2011 Ken Denniston