Some Plants Just Burst Into Flames When Conditions Are Right. Spontaneous Combustion In Plants Is Part Of Nature In Many Species.

It seems odd to thank that plants can cause fires, but some can and frequently do. It’s a part of the natural process that stimulates the fires that control vegetation across swathes of landscape on several continents. This article is about Spontaneous Combustion in Plants

The Role of Eucalyptus Oils in Competition

  • Eucalyptus trees are renowned for the oil present in their leaves, which can lead to a distinctive blue haze above the trees under specific conditions.
  • The oil seeping from fallen leaves into the soil acts as an inhibiting factor, preventing the growth of other plant seeds around the eucalyptus tree. It’s a botanical form of chemical warfare.
  • This oil secretion from both leaves and roots serves to minimize competition for resources and space, favouring the growth of eucalyptus trees.

The eucalyptus tree’s oils act as a growth inhibitor, reducing competition where it grows. But also making spontaneous combustion more likely.

Stefan Drew

Flammable Adaptations of Mediterranean Cistus – Spontaneous Combustion in Plants

Spontaneous Combustion in Plants
Image Attribution: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • When the temperature climbs to 32 degrees Celsius, the leaves of the Mediterranean cistus plant can spontaneously ignite, showcasing a unique survival tactic.
  • The ensuing flames consume the plant and surrounding vegetation, clearing the area and providing an opportunity for the plant to expand its territory.
  • The fire-induced destruction helps the plant in extending its range and ensures the survival of its offspring through a distinctive evolutionary tactic.

The Mediterranean cistus has leaves that can burst into flame at 32 degrees Celsius, aiding in their survival strategy.


Cistus are common in Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Portugal and beyond. They are also grown in the UK as garden plants but temperatures rarely reach high enough to promote spontaneous combustion.

Human Impact on Plant Biodiversity

  • Plant biodiversity faces a significant threat due to human activities encroaching on various natural habitats globally.
  • Human interference is identified as a key reason behind the escalating disappearance of plant species and the rapid decline in their numbers.
  • The intervention of humans, although detrimental in many instances, can also play a crucial role in conserving plant diversity and preventing further extinctions through dedicated conservation efforts.
Tag: Spontaneous Combustion in Plants
Image Attribution: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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