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Publication #FOR272

Fire in the Wildland-Urban Interface: Selecting Firewise Shrubs to Reduce Wildfire Risk1

Annie Hermansen-Baez, Wayne C. Zipperer, Alan J. Long, Anna L. Behm, Dawn McKinstry, and Anne Andreu2

Living in the wildland-urban interface provides a great opportunity to enjoy outdoor scenery, such as the natural backdrop of a surrounding forest or your own landscaping. Shrubs in particular are an attractive element in landscaping, providing beauty when in flower or bearing fruit, and serving as food and cover for wildlife. In areas with moderate to high risk of fire, however, these same shrubs may put your home at risk .

Recent research by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station, the School of Forest Resources and Conservation of the University of Florida, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology grouped 34 common landscaping shrubs into high, moderate, and low flammability categories. A colorful, illustrated guide presents these 34 species, by flammability category, to help you select shrubs and place them in your landscape to minimize the risk of wildfire. The guide is available at www.interfacesouth.org/products/fact_sheets/fire-in-the-interface-fact-sheets/selecting-firewise-shrubs-to-reduce-wildfire-risk/index_html.

The 22 plant species listed with low flammability are appropriate for addition to firewise lists and for planting near a home. The eight moderately flammable plants may be cautiously planted in the defensible space around a home. All shrubs within the defensible space should be routinely maintained by removing dead or diseased plant material. Homeowners should be aware that even firewise plants may be more flammable during drought or other extreme fire conditions.

Other Fact Sheets in the “Fire in the Wildland-Urban Interface” Series

(www.interfacesouth.org/products/fact_sheets.html )

  • Considering Fire in Florida’s Ecosystems

  • Preparing a Firewise Plant List for WUI Residents

  • Reducing Wildfire Risk While Achieving Other Landscaping Goals

  • Selecting and Maintaining Firewise Plants for Landscaping

  • Understanding Fire Behavior

Many of these fact sheets are also available in Spanish at: http://www.interfacesouth.org/products/fact_sheets.html?lang=es.

Note: These fact sheets can also be found on the University of Florida/IFAS Extension’s EDIS website at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_series_fire_in_the_wildland_urban_interface.

This document is Circular FOR272, one of the “Fire in the Wildland-Urban Interface” series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First published: May 2011. The development of this factsheet was funded by the Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry-InterfaceSouth, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service.

Annie Hermansen-Báez is the science delivery coordinator and center manager for the U.S. Forest Service, Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry-InterfaceSouth; Wayne Zipperer is a research forester with the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station; Alan Long is professor emeritus, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, School of Forest Resources and Conservation (UF/IFAS/SFRC); Anna Behm and Anne Andreu are former research associates with UF/IFAS/SFRC; Dawn McKinstry is a research associate with UF/IFAS/SFRC.

Footnotes

1.

This document is Circular FOR272, one of the Fire in the Wildland-Urban Interface series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First published: July 2011. This factsheet is funded by the National Fire Plan through the Southern Center for Wildland-Urban Interface Research and Information, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Annie Hermansen-Baez, center manager, Interface South-Centers for urban and Interface Forestry, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Southern Research Station; Wayne Zipperer, research scientist, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Southern Research Station; Alan J. Long, professor emeritus University of Florida School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Anna L. Behm, former research associate, University of Florida School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Dawn McKinstry, WUI Fire Project Coordinator, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Southern Research Station; and Anne Andreu, former research associate, University of Florida, School of Forest Resources & Conservation


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.