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Old 08-25-2002, 04:25 PM
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Default San Diego Newspaper recommends avoiding natives



Hello All, I`m posting a note that I sent to the 'other' California Native discussion group. Please forgive the cross posting, but I`d like to get as much input on this matter as I can; I`ve got over 3 acres! AlainSunset # 19 Here`s the quote from the North County Times, dated June 7th of this year: 'here are some basic recommendations for things that you can do to protect/prepare yourselfwhat kinds of plants are growing there? Remove highly combustible California natives that are full of volatile oils, such as sage, golden yarrow a summer deciduous perrenial, adding dry brush to the ground, California buckwheat, laurel sumac & lemonberry' http://www.nctimes.net/news/2002/20020607/92231.html We live several miles away from the recent 'Pines' fire that you folks up north must have heard about. This is my first year of reintroducing California Natives to the landscape we`ve recently purchased. I`ve planted sages, penstemons, yarrows, ceanothus, etc. Is there a way of researching which natives have the volatile oils and which do not? Are the oils in ornamental grasses as well? Any assistance in helping me research further would be grately appreciated! </p>
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Old 08-26-2002, 11:55 AM
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Default Re: San Diego Newspaper recommends avoiding natives



Alain - The two plants I have heard about from fire fighters as having volatile oils are Ceanothus and Baccharis. Low-growing varieties of both are widely available, so the danger is much reduced. I have not heard that Salvia or the other plants mentioned are especially flammable. The problem is that the people with firefighting experience that I know were not working in the San Diego, so probably wouldn`t have experience with shrubs down there. This would be a good question to take to the local CNPS chapter. Maybe they could print it in their newsletter - who knows, you might get some information. Cheers, Lori Hubbart</p>
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Old 08-27-2002, 05:18 AM
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Default Re: San Diego Newspaper recommends avoiding natives



I`d like to see some research on flammability of native and exotic plants. Eucalyptus is very flammable and I`m wondering when the Hosp grove in Carlsbad San Diego County is going to go up in flames. I asked the Oceanside Fire Dept about Saltbush atriplex and they confirmed that it is NOT flammable due to the salt content. I have a hard time believing that lemonadeberry rhus integr. is any more flammable than the many Australian bushes everyone insists on planting. I can see where Ceanothus has the oils but I am concerned that much of this is based on 'conventional wisdom' and not real facts. Of course fire fighters who are in the thick of a major brush fire will see things as more flammable. I guess houses are the most flammable since they always seem to burn. Please post any links to actual research on this topic. I have native gardens in established city blocks so I don`t need to fight the wrong battles.</p>
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Old 08-27-2002, 07:34 AM
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Default Re: San Diego Newspaper recommends avoiding natives



There is an excellent discussion about landscaping w/natives in fire-prone areas of California on the Las Pilitas web site http://www.laspilitas.com/fire.htm He mentions a few plants specifically--Salvia mellifera, Chamise, and buckwheats--as being problems in fire-prone areas. Aside from the kinds of plants used, of considerable importance is the structure of your landscape spacing, eliminating fuel ladders, etc.. I can attest to the flammability of various native Salvias--and would avoid placing those near structures or where they could ignite trees. California Division of Forestry CDF also puts out a guide to plant selection with fire prevention in mind, but their lists of fire-resistant and highly flammable species includes both natives and non-natives. Check with a nearby CDF office to obtain a copy. Good luck!</p>
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Old 08-28-2002, 09:05 AM
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Default Re: San Diego Newspaper recommends avoiding natives



CNPS San Diego Chapter just completed a handout on California Native Plants and Fire Resistant Landscaping. State CNPS has reviewed it and feels it is sound. If anyone wants me to send it as an attachment, please request at my email. As a physical handout, it will have a few little graphics that I don`t have available electronically, but they will just be fluff.</p>
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Old 05-16-2003, 06:29 PM
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Default Re: San Diego Newspaper recommends avoiding natives



Regarding fire and native plants, there seems to be a lot of BS out there. Here are a few common sense ideas to keep in mind. 1. Anything green and living and growing is very difficult to ignite, and will only ignite given prolonged, intense flame. 2. Anything dead and dry, like dry grass, dead limbs, and wood siding in a house, is very easy to ignite, and will burn very hot. Any plant can be either fire safe, or a fire hazard, depending on how it is maintained. Examples of this are chamise, or greasewood. In order to make chamise completely free of dead and dry material, you would have to trim it with a scissors!! However, if chamise is cut low, say two feet high, and spaced not too close, say three feet between specimens, it is perfectly safe. Jack Cohen did a lot of research on this subject, and he found that it doesn`t really matter what you do beyond 10 meters from your house. The most careful attention must be made within that border. Outside of 10 meters is really irrelevant to structure survival. As far as essential oils and volatility of plants, there is no research anywhere that supports an increased fire danger for volatile plants. However, volatile, oil laden plants do last longer once they die off, so that an oily plant will tend to accumulate more dead material, if left unmaintained. Here are some native plants that are difficult to maintain free of dead material Chamise and red shanks most sages and buckwheats Most coyote bushes however, this plant can be cut back to the stump and allowed to regrow every few years Here are plants with an unwarranted bad reputation, that actually should be encouraged in landscapes 1. Laurel Sumac, lemonadeberry and sugarbush Finally, this: Don`t cut anything in the spring!! Especially chamise. If you cut chamise and buckwheat and sage to about two feet high, and cut only in the fall, then the plant will easily survive and thrive. Kurt Kurt</p>
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