U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Fire Science Brief, Issue 53, June 2009


US government work.


While mature stands of blackbrush present an almost continuous cover that appears to suppress other species, this ecosystem supports a greater array of different plant species than was previously thought. Fire can completely remove blackbrush cover, but it also results in reduced numbers of other native species, and increased dominance of non-native species such as annual grasses that can promote recurrent fi re and alter the fi re regime. Where blackbrush shrublands historically experienced intense fi res with a long fi re return interval, the non-native fi ne fuels that are now prevalent in many stands promote a greater rate of fi re spread, and a shorter fi re return interval. As blackbrush often requires centuries to recover, this native shrub may not be able to re-establish in areas where the ecosystem has been greatly altered. Appropriate management responses vary depending on the condition that the blackbrush stand is in.