Diablo Recovery

What Follows a Fire? A Mount Diablo Botany Quiz

May 12, 2014


This article is part of a monthly series of photos and articles on the transformation of Mount Diablo following the 2013 Morgan Fire, funded by special donations from Bay Nature readers. You can find our stories, as well as event listings, iNaturalist sightings, and magazine features, at baynature.org/diablo.


fter a fire, botanists hustle out to burned areas to identify surviving and regenerating species. They’ve often got only a few leaves to go on, some from species that haven’t been seen for decades. So it’s tough.

Want to test your skills against those of the botanists? The following plants were photographed in a patch of burned chaparral on Mount Diablo on April 6, 2014. How many can you name? Click on a photo to take a closer look — answers below!


1. Baccharis, coyote brush.
2. Adenostoma fasciculatum, chamise, the dominant chaparral plant on Mount Diablo, sprouting from seed.
3. Emmenanthe penduliflora, whispering bells, a “fire following” plant that germinates after fires.
4. Mostly Emmenanthe penduliflora, whispering bells, and a few Adenostoma fasciculatum, chamise.
5. Phacelia phacelioides, Mount Diablo phacelia, common in chaparral after fires.
6. Acmispon brachycarpus, lotus.
7. Eriodictyon californicum, yerba santa, frequent on chaparral burns.
8. Ehrendorferia chrysantha (center, formerly called Dicentra chrysantha), golden eardrops, another “fire-following” plant that germinates after fires; and Adenostoma fasciculatum, chamise.
9. Scutellaria tuberosa, blue skullcap.
10. Mostly Emmenanthe penduliflora, whispering bells; a few Adenostoma fasciculatum, chamise; and Mentzelia sp.

About the Author

Joan Hamilton is producer of Audible Mount Diablo, a podcast for people who love the outdoors and want to know more about the plants, animals, and history of the Bay Area. Her interest in fires was sparked by the 2013 Morgan Fire in Mount Diablo State Park. She wrote two articles and numerous web posts for Bay Nature about nature's recovery from that conflagration, and has been a fire follower ever since. Most recently, she's been working on Diablo Range Revealed, a series that explores life in the inland coast range after the SCU Lightning Complex fire. You can find evidence at savemountdiablo.org/learn/diablo-range-revealed/.