Native Plants for Healing the Land after Fire

First publish ed September 19, 2018

“Destructive fires in California have increased in both number and severity over the last decades. … Recent drought and bark beetle tree mortality has resulted in millions of dead and dying trees … significantly weakened to resist fires.”
– Nevada County 2018-19 Fire Safe Guide

 

This is California’s new normal,” says Governor Jerry Brown.

Contributors to the New Normal

  • warmer and longer summers
  • more homes
  • more people in remote areas
  • above ground powerlines
  • weakened trees from 100 years of “no forest fires”
  • flammable invasive species growing near roads

“Cal Fire investigators have determined trees coming into contact with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. power lines are to blame for two Nevada County fires in October (2017) that burned a total of 897 acres and destroyed 60 structures.”
– Auburn Journal – Cal Fire pins blame on PG&E in two Nevada County fires (5-31-2018)

Nevada County Fire Statistics for October 8, 2017

McCourtney Fire – 76 acres burned.
Lobo Fire – 821 acres burned, 47 destroyed structures.

 

To date, the 2017 wildfire season was the most destructive and costly in California’s history.

If predictions hold true, this record will be broken.
In urban areas, toxic clean-up becomes necessary after fires.

In areas with steep topography, such as Nevada County, mudslides often follow fires.

If soil from the Lobo Fire has become unstable, Lake Wildwood may have cause for concern.

Native Plants for Healing the Land

As landowners recover from fire, they can make plant replacement choices that will speed land recovery, hold soil in place, create healthier environments, and reverse some of the disruption caused by mass urbanization and exotic ornamental plantings over the last hundred years.

Native plants are;

  • adapted to local soil and microclimates
  • their water needs are small
  • they flourish without fertilizers
  • they have their own natural pest management systems
Native plants also;
  • purify water
  • reduce run-off and erosion
  • contribute to soil health
  • provide food for wildlife
  • attract bees and butterflies
  • prevent the spread of invasive species
  • reflect the unique landscape of the area
  • combat climate change by storing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide

What are Native Plants?

Native plants are those that evolved to survive to live in a specific environment.

 

Doug Tallamy, Department of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology, University of Delaware, states that native oak trees support over 500 species of caterpillars while ginkgos, an Asian import, only support 5 caterpillar species.

If it takes one baby bird 150-200 caterpillars to grow to adulthood, oak trees will support them while ginkos…

How Do We Know Which Plants are Native?

Plant researchers compare fossil records to notes and drawings that European explorers made of seeds and specimens. While the list of California native changes as new information is discovered, scientists have a solid working knowledge of the plants that originated in the California Floristic Provence.

“The way we garden and create places like meadows will determine what life will look like tomorrow.” Doug Tallmay, author of Bringing Nature Home

Where Can I Buy Native Plants?

Every October, the Redbud Chapter of the California Native Plant Society holds an annual Native Plant Sale.

 

click on image to go to plant sale page

 

Native plants listed in ‘Native Plants for Healing the Land video.

California Buckwheat | Eriogonum fasciculatum 
Western Redbud | Cercis occidentalis
Narrow Leaf Milkweed | Asclepias fascicularis
Showy Milkweed | Asclepias speciosa
Heart Leaf Milkweed | Asclepias cordifolia

Redbud Chapter, Native Plant Society Resources

click on image for PDF page

 

click on image for PDF page

 

click on image for PDF page

Redbud Chapter Publications (700 local native plant species!)

Wildflowers of Nevada and Placer Counties, California 2nd Edition (2017)

Trees and Shrubs of Nevada and PlacerCounties, California (2014)

*Price discount for Members 
if purchased from Redbud*

Amazon

If you liked this post, check out Invasive Species Choke Natives or Forest Management and Fire.

Resources:

California Fires

CNBC – Gov. Jerry Brown warns ‘new normal’ of wildfires could bring fiscal stress for California  (8-1-18)
Good Day Sacramento – Lobo Fire Threatening Thousands of Homes in Nevada County (9-4-18)
NASA – Fire and Smoke (8-7-18)
Nevada County 2018-19 Fire Safe Guide – California’s new normal?
New York Times –  California Fire Now the Largest in State History: ‘People Are on Edge’

NASA Photo – Mendocino Complex fires – July 2018

Population Reference Bureau – Human Population Lesson Plan
The Union – Disaster averted; Firefighters save homes in western Nevada County (7-18-18)

Plants & Animals

Audobon – Why Native Plants Matter
Audubon’s handy database.  Enter your zip code for a list of native plants and the birds they’ll attract.

California Native Grassland Association
California Native Plant Society

Calscape – Gardening and Landscaping
Calscape – Native Plant Nurseries in California
Library of Congress – Edible Wild Plants
Monarch Joint Venture – Counter the loss of monarch habitat
MonarchWatch.org
Native American Ethnobotany Database – Nisenan Tribe
Sunset Magazine – Knock-Out Native Plants
UC Master Gardiners of Nevada County
University of California, Berkeley – University and Jepson Herbaria
Wild Seed Project

“By creating a native plant garden, each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals.” – Audobon

More Books

Bringing Nature Home, How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants
by Douglas Tallamay

Growing California Native Plants, by Marjorie G. Schmidt

Living Wild: Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of California by Alicia Funk

Leave a Reply