Tea Leaves — fire RSS

Giving rise from the ashes: Fireweed

Among the apparent defeat of blackened bark and earth after a fire, scattered seeds give rise to new growth. Fireweed is one perennial herb in particular that has persisted for centuries in these trying conditions, with gifts for both the landscape and the people on it. Once the ash has settled and the fires are out, fireweed is likely to be one of the first plants to appear in the early stages of a disturbed landscape. 

Continue reading

Wildfire Cycles and Resilience

Fear of fire is a colonial legacy, and in the contiguous US the practice was largely halted with the arrival of the Spanish.  Blinded by an unquestioned commitment to European worldviews and the belief in natural hierarchy, settlers saw fire as a purely destructive force. However, controlled burns and naturally occurring wildfires were, and continue to be, a means of renewal and a catalyst for seeds embedded in cycles of burning for their subsequent rejuvenation. Indigenous peoples have long understood the use of fire as an important tool in maintaining critical resources.

Continue reading

One Story of Burning

Seeds lie in wait in the dry dirt of the chaparral ecosystem, sometimes for more than 100 years. They hold within a secret, a key to rebirth adapted to the nature of their surroundings: many of these seeds germinate in fire. Phoenix-like, the foliage and plants of the chaparral has evolved beautifully to the regions where it grows. These Mediterranean-like climates allow for evergreen scrub brush landscapes dominated by species of stalwart plants and herbs that stabilize otherwise barren hillsides and provide shelter for the fauna in their midst. I recently had the chance to witness firsthand how this remarkable ecosystem regrows with the energy the wildfires bring, forces we tend to see as only frightening and destructive. It wasn’t...

Continue reading