In the north-eastern United States, invasive plants alter forest fuels, but their combustion characteristics are largely unknown. We assessed unground samples of foliage and twigs in the cone calorimeter for 21 non-invasive, native species, paired with 21 invasive species (18 non-native). Variables included sustained ignition, peak heat release rate, total heat release, and especially average effective heat of combustion, which is independent of initial sample mass. Heat of combustion was overall slightly lower for invasive species than for counterpart non-invasive species, and was significantly lower for Norway maple, black locust, and glossy buckthorn than for three non-invasive trees. It was low for invasive Japanese stiltgrass, sheep sorrel, and glossy buckthorn, and for non-invasive whitegrass, interrupted fern, grape, sphagnum moss, and three-lobed bazzania. Heat of combustion was high for invasive roundleaf greenbrier (native), scotchbroom, tree-of-heaven, Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese barberry, swallow-wort, and garlic mustard, and for non-invasive plants of fire-prone ecosystems: black huckleberry, pitch pine, bear oak, northern bayberry, and reindeer lichen. Heat content of twigs and foliage interrelates with other factors that affect fire behaviour, yet the cone calorimeter results enabled comparison of combustion properties among many species. These data have potential application as improved inputs for fire behaviour modelling.
Dibble, Alison C.; White, Robert H.; Lebow, Patricia K. 2007. Combustion characteristics of north-eastern USA vegetation tested in the cone calorimeter: invasive versus non-invasive plants. International journal of wildland fire. Vol. 16 (2007): Pages 426-443