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Fire ecology
Fire ecology

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2.5 Fire-stimulated flowering

Among fire-resistant grasses, lilies and orchids, fire often stimulates flowering. The result is higher seed production (with fewer seed predators around to eat them) and more seedlings, with a fine open seedbed in which to grow. This strategy is especially common in the Fynbos of South Africa with spectacular post-fire displays in some species; for example, fire lily (Cyrtanthus ventricosus) flowering is stimulated by smoke (Figure 14).

A photo of a plant with bright red flowers that contrast against a blackened background that has been recently burnt and contains no vegetation.
Figure 14  The fire lily (Cyrtanthus ventricosus) five days after a fire. Flowering can be initiated at any time of the year, being initiated entirely by fire.

As you have seen, plants have a plethora of fire-adaptive morphological traits that allow them to persist after fire and many are dependent on fire for their persistence in a community.

The next section looks at how fire generates habitat complexity and at a landscape scale, may maintain biodiversity by generating a patchwork of different kinds of habitat suitable for a wide variety of both plant and animal species.