Flammability of litter from southeastern trees: a preliminary assessmentThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The southeastern United States possesses a great diversity of woody species and an equally impressive history of wildland fires. Species are known to vary in their flammability, but little is known about southeastern species. We used published data and our own collections to perform standard litter flammability tests on a diverse suite of 25 native overstory trees from the region. Flame heights, duration of flaming and smoldering combustion, and fuel consumption were measured for each species. Species spanned a wide spectrum of flammability, from highly flammable to fire-impeding. The southeast has several flammable species, including several Pinus and Quercus that rank among the most flammable species ever measured. In addition to these species, several species burned with poor flammability, notably eastern hemlock [Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière], Ocala sand pine [P. clausa var. clausa (Chapm. ex Engelm.) Vasey ex Sarg.], and eastern white pine (P. strobus L.), dampening local fire intensity and enabling these fire-intolerant species to survive in fire-prone landscapes.