Longleaf pine habitats like this one rely on fire to remain healthy. Fire naturally reduces dense shrub growth and provides the right conditions for animals and plants adapted to this periodic event.
The gopher tortoise is federally listed as threatened in Mississippi, Louisiana and portions of Alabama. More than 300 species of animals and insects use the gopher tortoise burrow for food or shelter.
Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia grandifolia) is a rare plant that grows in moist, deciduous woods.
The bearded grass pink orchid (Calopogon barbatus) is found in pine flatwoods that were burned in the previous winter.
The black pine snake is endangered in Mississippi. Fire plays a critical role in maintaining the open, park-like characteristic of mature longleaf pine woodlands where the black pine snake lives.
The small yellow candyroot (Polygala nana) grows well in moist soil within open pines that are maintained by prescribed fire.
Low-growing native plants such as the gopher apple are adapted to fire, as it removes larger plants that could provide too much shade for the gopher apple to grow.
Without fire, the marsh rose gentian (Sabatia dodecandra) doesn’t survive because of the shade of larger, woody plants.
Gopher tortoises, including hatchlings like this one, need to be able to move easily from place to place. Prescribed fire makes this possible and also helps plants to sprout, providing quality food sources.
Most bog plants don't do well in shade, and are dependent upon fire to keep the area where they grow open and sunny.
This tiny Camp Shelby burrowing crayfish is found only at Camp Shelby within pitcher plant wetlands.
Like other carnivorous plants, sundews are adapted to obtain nutrients from insects rather than soil. Sundews trap insects by a sticky substance on its leaves.
The pitcher plant's yellow flower. Did you know that the 'pitcher' is actually a modified leaf?
Like the gopher tortoise, the dusky gopher frog depends on prescribed fire to maintain it's longleaf pine habitat. Development and lack of fire have caused these species to decline in numbers.
The delicate yellow fringed orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) benefits from fire as it decreases competition from other plants in moist, open acidic bogs.
The unique shape of the carnivorous pitcher plant traps insects, where they dissolve in the fluid in the bottom of the 'pitcher.' Fire helps carnivorous plants by removing other plants competing for the same space.
Who Loves Fire?
Learn more about plants and animals that depend on it to survive.