One of my favourite trees is the Cypress which give a distinctive character to so many landscapes around the Mediterranean.
But I was surprised to learn on holiday last week that Cypress trees are also remarkably fire resistant. Apparently a huge forest fire in Valencia in 2012 left a stand of 946 Cypress trees almost completely unscathed when all around it - over 20,000 hectares - was raised to the ground.
The reason apparently is that the trees have particularly compact, moisture-holding leaves. They also, like Eucalyptus, acidify the soil making it more difficult for other bushes or undergrowth to grow beneath them which could fuel a fire.
Of the 946 trees, only 12 were burnt, and the remainder suffered just 10% dehydration and quickly regenerated.
There is now a great deal of interest in using Cypress as fire-breaks in areas where forest fires are a threat. I'd be interested to hear of other plants or trees that have such beneficial effects.