Scientists identify plant that flowers in Brazilian savanna one day after fire

Rapid resprouting and flowering of Bulbostylis paradoxa is proof of the Cerrado biome’s superb resilience and its capacity to evolve through fire (photo: Alessandra Fidelis / personal archive)

By São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)

Plants in the Brazilian savanna, the Cerrado, have evolved to deal with fire. When fire is used intelligently as part of a carefully planned land management method, it is indispensable to the conservation of this superb ecosystem, the world’s most biodiverse savanna. Two months suffice for the Cerrado to burst into flower after a fire.

The study “From ashes to flowers: a savanna sedge initiates flowers 24 h after fire”, published recently in the journal Ecology, confirms this observation.

“The species is Bulbostylis paradoxa, a sedge [perennial herb similar to rushes and grasses] belonging to the family Cyperaceae,” Alessandra Fidelis, first author of the article, told Agência FAPESP. “Its common name in Brazil is cabelo-de-índio [‘Amerindian hair’].”

Fidelis is a professor at São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Rio Claro, Brazil, and conducted the study with support from FAPESP as part of the project “How does the fire season affect Cerrado vegetation?”.

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