The magnificent Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is, after the coast redwood, North America’s second-tallest tree, reaching heights of 300 feet or more. Found throughout the wetter parts of Cascadia, it was declared the State Tree of Oregon in 1939 and has appeared on Oregon’s passenger car license plates since 1988.
In designing a flag for Cascadia, Alexander Baretich chose the Douglas-fir as its emblem, based both on its prevalence in the bioregion and his lifelong familiarity with it, as dominated the southwest Portland neighborhood where he grew up.
The Douglas-fir has also captivated the imagination of Clifton Stone, who recently wrote to us to share some designs he has made to represent the state of Oregon:
I came up with a flag that is a close-up of a Douglas Fir sprig–six needles on a twig. I got the idea because I sometimes play around with macro-photography, the Doug Fir is obviously a major symbol for the state, and I totally love the look of close-ups of conifer sprigs and other small, graphically-patterned natural phenomena. Viewed closely enough, they can look like hidden natural flags.
His first design featured green needles symmetrically branching out from a central horizontal bar. He calls the design “the Doug Sprig”.
Looking more closely at Douglas-fir sprigs, he noticed that the needles actually branch off alternately from the stem. This led to a second, preferred version. (In heraldic terms, the reversing of colors between the upper and lower green-and-white stripes is called counterchanged.)
Two other Douglas-fir inspired proposed flags for Oregon can be found among the 10 finalists in The Oregonian’s 2008 Oregon Flag Contest.