Fire scar

n.  Woody tissue damage resulting from fire-caused partial mortality of a tree’s or shrub’s cambium layer.


  • Discussion


Fire scars, which can be individual or multiple scars contained in a large basal wound known as a tree “catface,” are produced by lethal heating of a portion of a tree’s cambium layer.  After the fire, the damaged cambium generally sloughs off within a few years, and the tree attempts to cover the wound with new radial growth.  Such wounds can remain open (unhealed) as a result of repeated fires or subsequent decay, but some fire scars heal completely over, leaving “buried scars” deep within the tree. For further discussion, see the Multilingual Glossary of Dendrochronology (1995).




The term fire scar has also been used in reference to the visible effects of a fire on a landscape, such as those caused by tree mortality in the burned area.



  • References

    • Multilingual Glossary of Dendrochronology (Terms and definitions in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian). 1995. Kaennel, Michele and Schweingruber, Fritz Hans, Compilers.  Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow, and Landscape Research, Birmensdorf / Paul Haupt Publishers, Berne ISBN 3-258-05259-X.  467 pp.  (online at:


  • Notes

    • Author 

      Steve Barrett, Consulting Fire Ecologist