These fire resistant plants can act as a last line of
defense for your home.
Spring is upon us here in Santa Clarita, and while thinking
over what types of plants would look good in your garden this year, the Los
Angeles County Fire Department is hoping that you'll give some consideration to
fire resistant plants.
Make no mistake, just about anything will burn if put under
a flame long enough. There are vast differences, however, between various types of
plants and trees that can determine how long they'll hold up under heat, and
more importantly, how they will burn.
"We actually have booklets of plant species that are better
for this area," said Los Angeles County Fire Department Captain Dave Petersen,
who runs fire station #124 in Stevenson Ranch. "They'll grow better, and they'll
stand up better to a fire should it go through the area."
Fire resistant plants help your home by not harming it. They
tend to simply wilt when exposed to heat, rather then combust and extend the
According to the Insurance
Information Network of California  (IINC), the top three plants to have
around your home in the event of a fire are as follows;
Rose Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens): Is a hardy, rugged
drought resistant shrub with evergreen deeply lobed, distinctly-scented
foliage. The flowers are small.
White Rockrose (Cistus hybridus): A low, neat mounded bush.
Has dark, richly colored and textured leaves and a myriad of small white spring
flowers. With age, it grows down slopes and over banks.
Small-leafed Ice Plant (Mesembryanthemum): The more commonly
planted low-creeping, fleshy-leaved ice plants are generally shallow rooted,
spring flowering and evergreen mat formers. Do well with occasional deep summer
The IINC has a complete list of recommended plants and
descriptions in a PDF file accessible by clicking here .
The Los Angeles County Fire Department can also direct
homeowners to proper literature regarding these types of plants, just call your
How about the worst plants? Trees with an oily substance, or
that become overly dry should be avoided. Pine trees, for example, burn very
quickly and at a high temperature. Their needles also shed often and if not meticulously
maintained, the trees could produce a pile of dead, dry, flammable needles at the
base of the tree.
Palm trees are also considered to be one of the worst types
of tress for fire zones.
There are two main problems with palm trees. First, their
giant palms and brown vegetation are capable of throwing a high number of
embers outward should the tree catch fire. Because of the size and shape of the
palms, they can carry burning embers up to a mile away. The potential damage
this can cause was evidenced during the 2007 Buckweed fire, when burning embers
started several home fires.
Additionally, Captain Petersen says that burning palm
trees take a lot of effort to extinguish.
"If we had a few palm trees on fire, it's going to take
several crews just to handle those," he said. "So it complicates things."
Also complicating the matter is that palm trees are
incredibly difficult to cut down, because they have a wet, corky center.
Another important and well-preached practice to help protect
your home is extending brush clearance. The natural chaparral is "made to burn"
according to Captain Petersen, and the more homeowners that clear it out around
their homes the better.