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Goal: Sustain Our Nation’s Forests and Grasslands Tailoring fire in young longleaf stands to benefit both private landowners and regional ecosystem restoration efforts

Longleaf pine seedlings
Fire between March and May ensures regrowth of scorched foliage among longleaf pine seedlings and saplings. (Forest Service photo by Mary Anne Sayer)


Strides to restore fire-adapted longleaf pine ecosystems depend on private landowner buy-in. Often, landowner objectives demand more than longleaf survival and ecosystem restoration; they also require an acceptable rate of wood production. Maximizing growth of young longleaf pine requires rapid regrowth of scorched foliage to sustain normal carbon fixation and allocation.


Ongoing research has provided detailed information about prescribed fire and the conditions necessary for rapid regrowth of scorched foliage in seedling and sapling stands of longleaf pine. Two physiological mechanisms that regrow scorched foliage are seasonally available starch reserves and net photosynthesis in unscorched foliage.

Conservation of some foliage on longleaf pine trees during prescribed fire promotes regrowth of scorched foliage, as SRS researchers and cooperators have found. Between March and May, both starch reserves and net photosynthesis support post-scorch foliage regrowth. Beyond May, the regrowth of scorched foliage depends on net photosynthesis. When foliage conservation is unlikely due to seedling or sapling stature, prescribed fire should be applied between March and May.

This information can guide fire application as early as the second growing season after planting. Controlling woody competitors during the period is critical to longleaf pine success.

Restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem depends largely on private landowners. SRS scientists have shared these findings at technical and nontechnical forums. Additionally, the relationship between foliage and plant growth is universal. Thus, the principles of this research are applicable to all fire-adapted forest systems.

Principal Investigator
Mary Anne Sword Sayer, Research Plant Physiologist
4158 - Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems
Strategic Program Area
Resource Management and Use
Fire and Fuels
Foliage re-establishment of Pinus palustris Mill. saplings after spring or fall prescribed fire
Research Partners
Lisa Lewis (Kisatchie National Forest)
Brian Rudd (Kisatchie National Forest)
Larry Kile (Kisatchie National Forest)
Dustin Dill (Kisatchie National Forest)
External Partners
Joshua Adams (Louisiana Tech University)
Michael Tyree (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
Dylan Dillaway (Unity College)