As we traveled through the American West, we caught sight of a few forest fires, some far, some nearer, as evidenced in the attached picture gallery. We learned a lot about forest fires from our educational leaders. The most amzing discovery was about the serotinous pine cones that reseed the forest ONLY WHEN FOREST FIRES OCCUR.
The serotinous pine cones respond ONLY to the heat of a forest fire and release the seeds to reseed the forest. A resin covers the pine cone, seals and protects the seeds from the heat of the fire. When the temperature is high enough, the resin melts and the seeds are released.
Borrowing from the online Free Dictionary, “Serotiny can be understood as an adaptation to an environment in which fires are regular, and in which post-fire environments offer the best germination and seedling survival rates. The passage of fire, however, reduces competition by clearing out undergrowth, and results in an ash bed that temporarily increases soil nutrition; thus the survival rates of post-fire seedlings is greatly increased. Fire clears out leaf and forest litter, eliminating these obstacles to germination.”