GREAT BRITISH TREES:
One of the 50 trees included in The Tree Council’s book Great British Trees, published in 2002.

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Type of tree:
Douglas Fir
Location:
Scone Palace
Perth PH2 6BD
Scotland

The Douglas Fir at Scone

Copyright Copyright Mike Pennington

This magnificent tree was grown from seed brought back from the Pacific north-west by the celebrated Scottish botanist and explorer David Douglas – hence its name. Most likely the seed was collected from the lower reaches of the Columbia River, near Fort Vancouver in 1825, arriving in Britain in 1827. The seeds were sown, the seedlings raised in a nursery and then planted out at Scone in 1834, the year that Douglas was killed on the slopes of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, when he fell into a wild cattle trap. He is buried at Kawaiahoa Church, Honolulu. Elwes said that “the tree was transplanted to its current position in 1850.”

Douglas was born within the grounds of Scone Palace and worked there as a gardener. In 1820, he was accepted for a post at the Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, under Dr William Hooker, and he began his plant hunting expeditions in 1823. Among his other discoveries are the noble and grand firs and the sitka spruce, widely recognised as one of the UK’s most important timber trees.

Grown from the first seed to arrive in Britain and planted close to his birthplace, this Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is a living memorial to a great plant hunter who shaped much of the commercial forest landscape of Britain.

The tree is situated next to the ruins of the old village of Scone which is within the grounds of Scone Palace, home of the Earls of Mansfield and one of Perthshire’s most popular tourist attractions. The Palace is located just outside Perth on the A93 road to Braemar and is well sign-posted from the main road. The house and grounds are normally open from Good Friday to mid-October and an admission fee is charged; tours are available in winter by prior appointment with the Estate office.

Photo: Mike Pennington and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.