California Redwoods Revive After Wildfire Destruction Through Ancient Carbon Reserves

By Margaret Davis
The Science Times
December 15, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Following a devastating 2020 wildfire in California’s Big Basin Redwood State Park, the renowned trees initially seemed doomed. However, a remarkable occurrence unfolded as small sprouts emerged from the scorched remnants. A recent study, titled “Old Reserves and Ancient Buds Fuel Regrowth of Coast Redwood after Catastrophic Fire” published in Nature Plants, reveals the trees’ revival mechanism: drawing upon ancient carbon reserves and bud tissues formed centuries ago. The wildfires left some of the oldest trees in Big Basin badly burned, revealing the age of their energy reserves. Researchers studying severely burned old-growth redwoods discovered some buds that are 2,000 years old. Coastal redwoods typically experience mild fires every decade, and their fire resistance is attributed to thick bark containing fire-resistant tannic acids. However, in the 2020 fires, even the uppermost branches burned, compromising their ability to photosynthesize.

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