The Fire Danger season is over

Or is it?

Fire Danger

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.

Pyrorchis nigricans

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.

Prasophyllum elatum

Prasophyllum elatum

Leptoceras menziesii produces more flowers after a summer fire.  This seems to be a general trend among the orchids and other Australian flowers.

Leptoceras menziesii

However that being said, there is a lot we don’t understand and don’t know about fire regimes and the Australian bush.

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4 thoughts on “The Fire Danger season is over

  1. Helen

    I’ve observed two ways the bush responds to fire. In the first, the orchids will flower very well that year, provided it has not been too dry. These fires generally occur in summer and tend to be unplanned or arsonists have caused it. The plants seem to recover fairly well after this type.

    The second type of fire are the controlled burns which occur in autumn or spring. Generally the orchids don’t survive and the bush turns into a mass of new growth which smothers the ground. It takes away the conditions that were suitable for the orchids and is very sad to see it.

    Reply
  2. 2ndhalfolife

    We are at a category 4 and have been for a while…high fire danger in New England! Everything extremely dry. I work at a fire station and haven’t been issuing fire permits at all!

    Reply
    1. Louise Post author

      I am curious. When does the fire danger season begin in New England? And when does it end?

    2. 2ndhalfolife

      It often is early spring we seem to have most of the dry season, but we don’t have any set ‘fire danger season’ honestly. We can have a dry spell any time.

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