Flammability of native understory species in pine flatwood and hardwood hammock ecosystems and implications for the wildland-urban interface
Six understory species from five pine flatwood sites and six understory species from five hardwood hammock sites were harvested for biomass analyses to compare potential flammability between two ecosystems. In the south-eastern coastal plain of the United States. Plant components were separated into live and dead foliage, accumulated litter on and under the plant, and small and large stems. Foliar biomass was further analyzed for moisture content, volatile solid content, and energy content. Statistical analyses revealed differences among species and between ecosystems. Serenoa repenspresent a wildfire hazard because they contain greater biomass than other species studied. Ilex glahru and Lyonia ferruginea are also hazardous to wildland-urban interface (WUI) structures because they have greater foliar energy content than other species studied. Callicarpa americana plants present the least wildfire hazard to WUI structures. We conclude that differences in flammability among species exits, but the causes of flammability are different among species. In addition, species in the same genus do not always have the same flammability. Based on measured characteristics, understory plants in pine flatwoods have greater ignitability, sustainability and combustibility than understory plants in hardwood hammocks. However, the measurements for combustibility were similar between ecosystems.