Rough [Southern rough]

n. Live and dead surface fuel consisting primarily of flammable evergreen shrubs (such as palmetto and gallberry) occurring beneath an overstory of pine trees in the southern United States.


  • Discussion


Ottmar and others (2003) use the term rough (called “southern rough” by some) more broadly to include grass-dominated fuelbeds under longleaf pine. In Wade and Lunsford 1989 and Wade 1995, rough is defined as "the accumulation of live understory and dead fuels that build up over time."




Frost (personal communication) defines rough as mostly formerly fire-maintained pine flatwoods and longleaf pine savanna that 1) have been logged and left to succession, 2) are characterized by young or scattered remnant pines, and 3) are in the process of growing up in woody understory vegetation of varying density in the absence of fire.  


Rough is characterized by very high vegetation growth rates (returning to burnable fuel loads as soon as six months to one year post fire) and is highly flammable, even in high fuel moisture conditions. The live fuel component of rough contributes to the high flammability, especially during spring or summer growth phases when sap content is high.


Rough is differentiated from its more xeric cousin "scrub," which generally has more of an oak component associated with it.


Note that "rough" is a term used by foresters and firefighters and is not a potential natural vegetation group (PVNG), biophysical setting (BpS) classification, ecological system, nor a defined ecological vegetation type.


  • See Also

  • References

    • Anderson, H.E. 1982. Aids to determining fuel models for estimating fire behavior. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-122. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 26 p.

    • Bucher, Margit. 2006. [Personal communication]. June 20, Durham, NC: The Nature Conservancy, North Carolina Field Office.

    • Frost, Cecil C. 2006. [Personal communication]. June 20. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina, Department of Biology, Curriculum in Ecology.

    • Noble, Caroline. 2006. [Personal communication]. October 10. Tallahassee, FL: National Interagency Fire Center, DOI National Park Service.

    • Ottmar, Roger D.; Vihnanek, Robert E.; Mathey, Jared W. 2003. Stereo photo series for quantifying natural fuels. Volume VIa: sand hill, sand pine scrub, and hardwoods with white pine types in the Southeast United States with supplemental sites for volume VI. PMS 838. Boise, ID: National Wildfire Coordinating Group, National Interagency Fire Center. 78 p.

    • Scott, J. H.; Burgan, R.E. 2005. Standard fire behavior fuel models: a comprehensive set for use with Rothermel’s surface fire spread model. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-153. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 72 p.

    • Schafale, Michael. 2006. [Personal communication]. July 10. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

    • Wade, Dale D.; Lunsford, James D. 1989. A guide for prescribed fire in southern forests. In: Tech. Pub. R8-TP 11. PMS-431-2  NFES 2108.  Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeast Forest Experimental Station..

    • Wade, Dale. 1995. Florida Certified Burner’s correspondence course Hillsborough, FL: Hillsborough Community College Institute of Florida Studies. 156p.


  • Notes

    • Author 

      Diane Gerke, Spatial Fire Behavior Analyst

      Systems for Environmental Management