Effects of fire season on flowering of forbs and shrubs in longleaf pine forests

William J. Platt, Tall Timbers Research Station
Gregory W. Evans, Tall Timbers Research Station
Mary M. Davis, Tall Timbers Research Station


Effects of variation in fire season on flowering of forbs and shrubs were studied experimentally in two longleaf pine forest habitats in northern Florida, USA. Large, replicated plots were burned at different times of the year, and flowering on each plot was measured over the twelve months following fire. While fire season had little effect on the number of species flowering during the year following fire, fires during the growing season decreased average flowering duration per species and increased synchronization of peak flowering times within species relative to fires between growing seasons. Fires during the growing season also increased the dominance of fall flowering forbs and delayed peak fall flowering. Differences in flowering resulting from variation in fire season were related to seasonal changes in the morphology of clonal forbs, especially fall-flowering composites. Community level differences in flowering phenologies indicated that timing of fire relative to environmental cues that induced flowering was important in determining flowering synchrony among species within the ground cover of longleaf pine forests. Differences in fire season produced qualitatively similar effects on flowering phenologies in both habitats, indicating plant responses to variation in the timing of fires were not habitat specific. © 1988 Springer-Verlag.