Fire-Prone Plants

Fire Prone PlantsIdentifying Fire-Prone Plants

Use this list to identify Marin's most common fire-prone plants.  These plants ignite readily and burn intensely, and should be avoided (or removed, if noted) if present in a home's Defensible Space zone or close to roads and driveways.  If removal is not an option, intensive maintenance may be required to reduce flammability.  Your fire department may require removal of the plants on this list within 100' of structures.

This list is not comprehensive and is intended to identify only the species most common in Marin.  Learn more about fire-prone plants.


 

Scrub Oaks

Scrub Oaks

Quercus spp.
  • Scrub Oaks
  • Recommendation: Avoid
  • Fire Resistance: Poor
  • Native: Yes
  • Scrub Oaks

Spanish Broom

Spanish Broom

Spartium junceum

Spartium junceum, a dicot, is a shrub that is not native to California; it was introduced from elsewhere and naturalized in the wild. It is an invasive plant and is fire prone.

It is an invasive plant. The California Invasive Plant Council classifies its potential impact on native ecosystems as high.

  • Spanish Broom
  • Recommendation: Remove
  • Fire Resistance: Poor
  • Native: No

Spruces

Spruces

Picea spp.

A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea, a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal (taiga) regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from about 20-60 m (about 60-200 ft) tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical form. The needles, or leaves, of spruce trees are attached singly to the branches in a spiral fashion, each needle on a small, peg-like structure. The needles are shed when 4-10 years old, leaving the branches rough with the retained pegs (an easy means of distinguishing them from other similar genera, where the branches are fairly smooth).

  • Spruces
  • Recommendation: Remove
  • Fire Resistance: Poor
  • Native: No
  • Spruces

Tan Oak, Tanbark Oak

Tan Oak, Tanbark Oak

Notholithocarpus densiflorus

Notholithocarpus densiflorus, commonly known as the tanoak or tanbark-oak, is an evergreen tree in the beech family (Fagaceae), native to the western United States, in California as far south as the Transverse Ranges, north to southwest Oregon, and east in the Sierra Nevada. It can reach 40 m (130 ft) tall (though 15-25 m (49-82 ft) is more usual) in the California Coast Ranges, and can have a trunk diameter of 60-190 cm (24-75 in).

Tanbark-oak was recently moved into a new genus, Notholithocarpus (from Lithocarpus), based on multiple lines of evidence. It is most closely related to the north temperate oaks, Quercus, and not as closely related to the Asian tropical stone oaks, Lithocarpus (where it was previously placed), but instead is an example of convergent morphological evolution.

Tanoak is very tolerant, and it commonly occurs in any crown position. Seedlings and saplings are quite common in the understory of hardwood or conifer stands. Understory tanoak can grow rapidly in response to death or removal of overstory trees. Tanoak of any age seem to prefer some shading from codominant stems within clumps. Sudden, excessive exposure of stems or crowns is detrimental. Tanoak typically occurs as a codominant tree with other hardwoods, often with an overstory of conifers. Pure stands of tanoak are also common during early stages of succession after fire or logging, however.

  • Tan Oak, Tanbark Oak
  • Recommendation: Remove
  • Fire Resistance: Poor
  • Native: Yes
  • Tan Oak, Tanbark Oak

Yew

Yew

Taxus spp.
  • Yew
  • Recommendation: Avoid
  • Fire Resistance: Poor
  • Native: No
  • Yew

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