Fire Diary – Week 3 (21 February)

Three weeks after the fire and despite no rain there is lots of growth amongst the resprouters. Relatively few fynbos species are resprouters, regenerating by sprouting from their burnt out stumps after fire. The vast majority of fynbos plants are seeders, (or reseeders) that are killed by fire and only germinate from seed after fire. The resprouters are able to survive fire and resprout from a woody rootstock. They are able to regrow more rapidly than reseeders, using their reserves stored underground. Below are two examples of resprouters that were grwoing at an amazing pace just three weeks after the fire and with no rain. The first is Asparagus rubicundus (wild asparagus) which becomes particularly prickly as it matures and has left many a hiker with horribly scratched shins.

Asparagus rubicundud resprouting after fire in the fynbos

A walk up to the summit of Witkrans peak revealed these grasses (mostly Themeda triandra or rooigras) sprouting from their burnt out bases. It was amazing to see how life was returning to these charred landscapes so quickly after the fire. These resprouting grasses are fresh and tasty compared to the dried out version of before the fire. The result is that there is plenty of food and nutrition for animals such as tortoises, grey rhebuck and klipspringers that survived the fire.

Themeda triandra resprouting on Grootbos

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