Effect of season of burn on shoot recovery and post-fire flowering performance in the resprouter Stirlingia latifolia R. Br. (Proteaceae)

B.J. Bowen, John Pate

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    20 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Stirlingia latifolia R. Br. is a proteaceous undershrub that is widespread in open woodlands and heathlands of the south-west botanical province of Western Australia where it is subject to frequent fires, both natural and the result of fuel-reduction burns. Shoots are completely destroyed by fire but regenerate rapidly by resprouting numerous new shoots from the root crown. Flowering is strongly triggered by fire with only sparse flowering in fire-free periods. A study was undertaken to compare regrowth and flowering in populations of S. latifolia burnt in summer or autumn with populations burnt in spring as well as in unburnt population. Post-fire flowering was recorded in 92% of plants burnt in summer/autumn compared with 73% of plants burnt in spring and less than 3% in populations that had not been burnt for more than 2 years. Plants burnt in summer/autumn resprouted an average of 8.5 shoots from their root crown, of which 93% developed an inflorescence. In contrast, spring-burnt plants averaged only 5.9 shoots per plant with only 64% of these bearing an inflorescence. Ability to produce flowers was found to be related to plant age, with young individuals producing fewer or no inflorescences following spring burns in comparison with the more prolific flowering of similarly aged individuals following summer/autumn burns. Summer/autumn-burnt plants also produced significantly longer inflorescence-bearing shoots bearing a greater numbers of flower heads than those burnt in spring. Possible explanations for these results are given in the present report.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-155
    JournalAustral Ecology
    Volume29
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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