Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost – August 25, 2019
I have recently found myself thinking quite a bit about fire. It started a few weeks ago when all the smoke detectors in my house went off one morning soon after I arrived at work, necessitating a visit from the fire department who informed us that while our house was safe, this was the detectors’ way of informing us that they needed to be replaced, a last hurrah, if you will.
The second reason I have been thinking about fire lately is out of concern for the Amazon rainforest, which is burning at an alarming rate. There are currently nearly 40,000 fires burning across the Amazon, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, the most rapid rate of burning in the last six years, since record-keeping began. The toxic smoke from the fires is so thick that the sky grows dark hours before the sun sets in São Paulo, Brazil, the largest city in the Western Hemisphere. The Amazon is the Earth’s largest tract of rainforest, featuring millions of species and billions of trees, and storing vast amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide while producing 6 percent of the planet’s oxygen.[i]
All of this thinking about fire led me to learn about what are called pyrophytic plants. Pyrophytes are plants that have adapted over long periods of time to tolerate fire. They fall into three major categories: passive pyrophytes, active pyrophytes, and pyrophile plants.