Q Are plants aware of fire? Do they react to it?
A It is generally agreed that plants do not have "awareness" in the conventional sense, since they lack a nervous system and a brain. But they do react to the damage a fire can inflict.
In Australia, for example, plants have evolved a variety of mechanisms that help them recover from brush fires. The eucalyptus has woody storage vessels called lignotubers, which shelter tissues that can sprout after a fire.
Some plants, like banksia, release seeds from woody capsules when heated, while others, including some orchids, flower after stimulation by a fire.
Still other plants, like acacia, have seeds that germinate only after exposure to fire or smoke.
In California, a few species - including maple, aspen and pinegrass - sprout again after a fire, from buds that grow at least partly protected under the soil line.
Some pine trees have cones, sealed by tar, which open to release seeds only when a fire's heat melts the tar.
And like in Australia, some native species that produce seeds must be exposed to fire to germinate.