Fire Resistant Native Plants
with High Wildlife Value
Printable PDF version
Compiled by the Theodore
Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants, Inc.
Important Note: All plants will
eventually burn. There is no such thing as a fireproof plant. There are some
plants that can retain moisture, even in dry areas, and are called fire
resistant. This list is designed to identify some Californian native plants that
are fire resistant and have wildlife value. These plants with few exceptions are
listed as acceptable to plant in Fuel Modification Zones by Los Angeles County
Fire. The purpose of this list is to help place fire resistant and wildlife
important plants in areas where brush clearance can leave an area barren.
Atriplex barclayana. Beach
Carpet Saltbush. A low growing form of saltbush (6” high, spreading). This
saltbush provides good ground cover for soil erosion and provides seeds, salt
and cover for wildlife.
Atriplex canescens. Four-wing
Saltbush. A low growing form of saltbush (1-2’ high, 3’ wide) that happily
grows in the desert. It provides seeds, salt and cover for wildlife.
- Baccharis piluaris “Pigeon Point”.
Dwarf Coyote Bush. While not a “showy” plant, it does produce some
flowers and has a deep root system, that provides good erosion control. It grows
12” to 18” in height. It adds cover and seeds for a variety of birds. (LA
County Fire approved)
- Monardella linoides viminea.
Willowy Coyote Mint. This federally protected coyote mint grows up to 18”
tall and prefers North facing (somewhat shaded) or riparian areas. It has a long
blooming cycle, flowering through the summer and fall and is an attractant to
hummingbirds and butterflies. Songbirds also eat the seeds.
- Atriplex lentiformis breweri.
Quail Bush. A larger saltbush (4’ high, 6-8’ wide) that provides critical
habitat for the California quail and other birds.
- Galvezia speciosa. Island Bush
Snapdragon. This CNPS “rare” plant is from the Channel Islands and stays
evergreen year round producing trumpet shape red flowers favored by
hummingbirds. It grows in 18” to 24” in height and 3’ to 5’ in width. It also
adds excellent cover for wildlife.
- Isomeris arborea. Bladderpod.
A very drought tolerant shrub that forms yellow flowers and seedpods.
(LA County Fire approved)
- Mahonia nevinii (aka Berberis
nevinii). Nevin’s Barberry. A federally endangered species, once
common in the Verdugo Mountains, grows berries that are favored by many
songbirds. The spiny leaves also add a protective cover. The shrub can grow up
to 4’ in height and 6’ in width and is evergreen. (LA County Fire approved)
- Mahonia, Aquifolium and all
subspecies. Mahonia/ Barberry. It's
purple berries and yellow flowers are favored by many songbirds. The spiny
leaves also add a protective cover. (LA County Fire approved)
- Rhus laurina (aka Malosma laurina).
Laurel Sumac. While laurel sumac does have a high oil content, it has
found to have a much higher incineration point than most other plants. It has
been found to be one of the last plants to burn in fires. It provides important
cover, food and nesting resource for many types of wildlife. A laurel sumac that
has the lower third of it’s branches pruned is considered fire-safe. It is a
favorite shrub amongst warbler.
- Mimulus sp. “Big Tujunga” or “La
Tuna”. Monkeyflower (local varieties). These two local varieties of
Monkeyflower do well in the summer heat and provide pale to deep orange flowers.
It grows 18” to 36” in height and 3’ to 5’ in width. The flowers and seeds
provide wildlife value
- Ribes aureum. Golden
Currant. This currant grows upright to 6’ and is lacy in structure. In
summers, it can go semi-drought deciduous, though with some water in will remain
evergreen. It’s berries offer a high wildlife value. (LA County Fire
- Rhus integrifolia. Lemonade
Berry. A very drought-resistant shrub that provides cover and food to
wildlife. California Thrasher uses it's fruit and leaf material for nesting. It also is an excellent erosion control plant.
- Symphoricarpos albus. Common
Snowberry. While not the favorite berry choice of most wildlife, it still
gets eaten. Its root system is vigorous and deep enough to hold most banks.
Snowberry has been seen on North-facing slopes in the full sun, though shaded
areas such as under oaks is best.
- Heteromeles arbutifolia. Toyon.
This small tree is found readily in La Tuna Canyon. It is very drought
tolerant and provides red berry for months that are a favorite amongst many
birds found in the area.
- Quercus agrifolia. Coastal
Live Oak. Oak trees are important wildlife resources and have actually been
found to suppress fire.