Fire-resistant plants are those that do not readily ignite from a flame or other
ignition sources. These plants can be damaged or even killed by fire; however, their
foliage and stems do not significantly contribute to the fuel and, therefore, the
fire’s intensity. There are several other significant factors that influence the
fire characteristics of plants, including plant moisture content, age, total volume,
dead material, and chemical content.
Plants that are fire-resistant have the following characteristics:
Leaves are moist and supple.
Plants have little dead wood and tend not to accumulate dry, dead material
within the plant.
Sap is water-like and does not have a strong odor.
Sap or resin materials are low.
Most deciduous trees and shrubs are fire-resistant.
When landscaping around a home, most homeowners are interested in creating a landscape
that is aesthetically pleasing, complements their home, and has variations in color,
texture, flowers, and foliage. When selecting plants, you also should consider the
flammability of plants (i.e., fuel), particularly if your home is located in or adjacent
to a forest or rangeland.
Homeowners should take active steps to minimize or reduce the fuel and fire hazard
around their homes, including the use of fire resistant plants in the landscape.
Equally important is proper plant placement, plant spacing, and ongoing plant maintenance.
These practices, when combined, can create a fuel break and help protect your home
by blocking intense heat.
Flammable plant material in your landscape can increase the fire risk directly around
your home. The 1991 Oakland Hills fire in California is a prime example of how flammable
plant material (Eucalyptus trees) can act as fuel and contribute to the intensity
of a wildfire. More than 3,000 homes were destroyed.