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 US Forest Service Southern Research Station, UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation, 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
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 UF/IFAS Extension's EDIS website at: https://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 UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension. 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 US Forest Service, Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry-InterfaceSouth; Wayne Zipperer is a research forester with the US Forest Service, Southern Research Station; Alan Long is professor emeritus, UF/IFAS 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.