While fire is a threat to most living beings, it works differently on active pyrophytes. In fact, these plants even contain volatile oils that encourage fire incidents for their advantage as well. Active pyrophytes or pyrophyte plants are the plants that require fire in order to complete their cycle of reproduction. How weird, right? You are going to find 3 plants of this type below, so let’s take a look.
1Australian Grass Tree
This is one of the active pyrophytes that are able to flower prolifically after a fire. You can tell that an Australian grass tree survived a blaze with its conspicuous flower spikes. Just a few weeks after the fire, colorful flowers start blooming out from the Australian grass trees. Even in the greenhouses, these trees need blowtorching to encourage flowering which is absolutely different from most plants out there. Australian grass trees have an amazing ability to survive fire even if the fire blackens their trunks and burns their leaves. These trees can still move on because their living growth point is underground.
However, not all species of this tree are active pyrophytes and the perfect example of that is the grey grass tree. This tree inhabits Victoria, and hot fires can definitely kill them. So these trees need protection if they grow in fire-prone landscapes where wildfires are common. Grass trees are important to the Aboriginal people across Australia because their resin works great as glue. People can use them in patching up water containers, spear-making, and many more. At the same time, their flower spikes are useful as fire sticks and fishing spear shafts. These trees grow everywhere in Australia, and this species is under protection since it is threatened by cinnamon fungus.
Eucalyptus trees make up most of Australia’s forests, and every state and territory in the country has representative species. About three-quarters of Australian forests are eucalyptus forests, and these trees have a very unique way to grow. Several eucalyptus species have specialized buds that are protected under the bark of their trunks. When the trees are burned, those buds emerge to produce new branches and leaves so that the trees live on. These active pyrophytes rely on starting wildfires in order to prevent other tree species from invading their habitat. Since eucalyptus trees depend on their fire-resistant qualities, they can survive their own fires without a problem. Since wildfire is a feature of the Australian landscape, this explains why eucalyptus seeds can survive the fire.
Native to Northern Africa and Southern Europe, gum rockrose is very common in abandoned pastures, shrubland, and woodland. These graceful flowers grow in degraded forests or mountain landscapes as a consequence of fires. Gum rockrose is one of the active pyrophytes, and it is very popular as an ornamental plant. This flower species does not only tolerate drought and fire but its sticky resin is also highly flammable. The fires actually serve to soften the hard seed coatings, stimulating the plants to grow while fueling summer fires that rage through the region.
People also grow them for their strong resin-scented foliage and conspicuous flowers. Shepherds noticed that working resin from the flowers helped small cuts to heal faster. Today, essential oil from gum rockrose leaves is still among the best healing agents for general skin problems, scarring, and wrinkles. More than that, the leaves of these flowers also yield fragrant oleoresin that is used in perfumes as well. Traditionally, goat-headers collected gum rockrose for the perfume industry. Even more interesting, it also functions as medicine that it is an excellent antibacterial, antiseptic, and antiviral medicine.