The common name honors David Douglas, a Scottish botanist and collector who first reported the extraordinary nature and potential of the species. The common name is misleading since it is not a true fir, i.e., not a member of the genus Abies. For this reason the name is often written as Douglas-fir (a name also used for the genus Pseudotsuga as a whole).
The specific epithet, menziesii, is after Archibald Menzies, a Scottish physician and rival naturalist to David Douglas. Menzies first documented the tree on Vancouver Island in 1791. Colloquially, the species is also known simply as Doug-fir or as Douglas pine (although the latter common name may also refer to Pinus douglasiana).
Coast Douglas fir is currently the second-tallest conifer in the world (after coast redwood). Extant coast Douglas fir trees 60–75 m (197–246 ft) or more in height and 1.5–2 m (4.9–6.6 ft) in diameter are common in old growth stands, and maximum heights of 100–120 m (330–390 ft) and diameters up to 4.5–6 m (15–20 ft) have been documented. The tallest living specimen is the “Doerner Fir”, previously known as the Brummit Fir, 99.4 m (326 ft) tall, at East Fork Brummit Creek in Coos County, Oregon, the stoutest is the “Queets Fir”, 4.85 m (15.9 ft) in diameter, in the Queets River valley of Olympic National Park in Washington. Douglas firs commonly live more than 500 years and occasionally more than 1,000 years