Or is it?
April 30 marks the official end of the Fire Danger season. That means that after May 1, farmers and landowners can do burn-offs, before the rains come. Principally, control burns are for fuel reduction.
Controlled burns don’t always stay within prescribed limits. Sometimes, they get out of hand. Even this week, I have heard of a couple of fires getting out of control. Of course, they are nothing like the bushfires we have in summer, but they are still a threat. The fire danger season is not over.
Some Australian native plants need fire to reproduce but the fire needs to be at the right time of the year which happens to be our fire danger season.
Fires in autumn, winter and spring can be dangerous for our native plants, including the orchids. The Fire Orchid (Pyrorchis nigricans) is one orchid that needs fire in order to flower. It is quite common with its leaves appearing every year but with only the occasional flower. It will not flower unless there has been a fire the previous year. However, the fire has to be in summer while the plants are dormant. In winter, a controlled burn can destroy the leaves and the whole plant.
Another flower that improves with summer fires are the Prasophyllums. By improve, I mean they have a striking black stem instead of the standard green stem.
Leptoceras menziesii produces more flowers after a summer fire. This seems to be a general trend among the orchids and other Australian flowers.
However that being said, there is a lot we don’t understand and don’t know about fire regimes and the Australian bush.