Fire can be a destructive force in nature, sometimes consuming entire homes and communities in their path and requiring the valorous efforts of firefighters. Despite these unnerving characteristics, wildfire plays a very important role in maintaining diversity and promoting health in our ecosystem.
In areas where fire is common plants and trees are constantly adapting to the fury of the flames, and even more curious than the adaptation, is the genuine need some trees and plants have developed in areas where wildfires are common. In the Pacific Northwest, there a large regions rich with forests armed by evolution. Lodgepole pine, native to the western range in the US, has for hundred of years been adaptive and even dependent on fire. Documentation of this dates back to the 1900’s. Acreages of Lodgepole pine burned to nothing, only to grow back with more force than ever before, thanks to tens of thousands of seedlings that became available after a wildfire. Lodgepole Pine is ornamented with serotinous pine cones. Due to a resinous bond between the cones scales, serotinous cones need an environmental trigger before any seeds can be released--unlike most cones which are able to reproduce as soon as they fully mature. In the case of the Lodgepole Pine the cones must be exposed to temperatures between 45? and 50? or higher, which does occur during the heat of the summer when cones fall to the ground, but significant growth skyrockets after a wildfire has been through the region.