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Flammability of Selected Southern Landscape Shrubs

Researchers at the U.S. Forest Service, University of Florida, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted a shrub flammability study of 34 southern shrub species using three different flammability categories to indicate how easily and intensely each shrub will burn: high, moderate, and low. The 34 shrubs shown here were selected for testing based on responses to a survey from fire professionals across the southern United States.

These videos of the shrub burns were taken in the spring of 2004, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Many measurements of flammability were taken while the shrubs were burning, including: time until ignition, heat release rate, and maximum flame height. These videos demonstrate how the different shrubs burned in controlled conditions.

For more information about plant flammability visit our Fact Sheets section.

High Flammability

Plant these shrubs 30 feet or more away from any structure and maintain them regularly.

Ashe Juniper (Juniperus ashei)

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Moderate Flammability

Use cautiously in isolated landscape beds, 15 feet or more from any structure.

Boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. koreana)

Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)

Hershey’s Red Azalea (Rhododendrum obtusum)

Leyland Cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii)

Pipestem (Agarista populifolia)

Rhododendron (Rhododendron x chionoides)

Low Flammability

These shrubs are suitable for planting within the defensible space around a structure. Plant at least 6 feet or more from structures.

Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa)

Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum))

Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)

Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma)

Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

Camellia (Camellia japonica)

Cape Jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides)

Coontie (Zamia pumila)

Foster Holly (Ilex x attenuata)

Klein's Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira)

Rosebay (Rhododendron maximum)

Scarlet Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea var. mohave)

Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruiticosa)

Walter's Vibernum (Viburnum obovatum)

Weigela (Weigela florida)

Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)

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