Smoke treatment and seed germination

The Arty Plantsman

This counts as this week’s geeky plant post. My mental health is good but I am unbelievably tired this week.

As many of you know, I have a great interest in plants adapted to a summer-dry Mediterranean climate. This includes the Fynbos habitat of South Africa which is what ecologists call a ‘fire climax community’. This basically means that the style of vegetation is maintained by periodic bushfires which kill off older, woodier plants and leave room for the cycle to start again from buried seeds, bulbs, tubers etc. Eventually, over several years the amount of flammable woody material increases until a fire resets the habitat again.

fynbos Fynbos, with a large Restio in the centre and the tubular red and yellow flowers of an Erica species in foreground

The plants of the fynbos have many adaptations to this cycle. For instance some bulbs (which stay safe underground during the fire…

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