To help imagine it and my inspiration, it's basically similar to pictures from Abrahamic religions with burning trees like this one. They can't speak though, they are just trees or plants that are burning.

Source: https://www.pinterest.cl/pin/792915078113690656/?lp=true

enter image description here

Also, I know about (real plant) eucalyptus trees, which can generate easily burnable toxic oil to create forest fires in order to eradicate competitors. I also know they have thicker or secondary/multiple layers bark/wood and hidden stems in their cores to survive the forest fires they create. They can even shed their bark to be carried by wind in order to create new fires spot. Also, banksia, which need fire to reproduce. So, my fire tree is a bit similar to both of that except it's literally on fire forever until its death. It generates the fire like its leaves. It's not necessary for the trunk/wood or other parts to be on fire, though.

I also think my fire trees burn themselves as an extreme way to create rain, similar to how rain forests do to cool down and get water from the heat they generate (they are not on fire though just hot, I don't quite understand how it work so correct me if I am wrong regarding this). but I also don't want the fire to go away until the tree is dead. Also, the sudden extremely different temperature due to rain may can harm it, even if it can withstand fire. so i am not so sure about this method can work for my tree.

I might use this fire tree for burning its competitors, scaring away anything that wants to eat/destroy it, or spreading its seed. But I can't figure out how they gain energy, is there a way for such tree to gain energy from the fire? What kind of modification/evolution would trees need to do so? Since photosynthesis doesn't seem to be the way to go (correct me if I am wrong, and it not necessarily they get the food or energy from the fire either).

  • I don't know what kind of region/environment or weather/climate it is yet outside of that these trees only exist on an isolated island, although originally I was thinking something like a tropical forest near the equator. Feel free to suggest a better region to suit such a tree.

  • Modifying the entire world to make this tree exist (such as filling the entire planet with methane or eucalyptus oil vapor or other easily burnable material) is out of the question, because my world is habitable planet similar to the earth. It is, however, acceptable if a modification to achieve an environment for such a tree would only exist in that isolated region.

  • It is also acceptable if the fire it generates is not actually harmful or can burn someone; I believe there exists a chemical that has fire that has a lower temperature that can not give burns - something like the fire in Jackie Chan movie in Karate Kid. If possible I prefer the harmful fire though, since I need to burn other trees to make only this kind of tree dominate the island. Besides, such harmless fire is less cool.

  • It's also acceptable if they need to have a short life to achieve this, but if possible I want it to have a long lifespan like a common tree.

  • It also not necessary for the fire to burn out or be gone after the tree dies though.

  • Also if possible, I don't want the plant to be a carnivorous plant in order to get food or energy, although I can imagine how to apply it as that. That is out for this question.

Feel free to correct my grammar and change my tags to the appropriate ones.

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    $\begingroup$ Simple: you can't, since it would violate conservation of energy (unless perhaps it tapped into a shallow petroleum resevoir?). What you could have is a phoenix tree, which grows like a normal tree until it's mature, then sets itself on fire to reproduce. (See also Larry Niven's "stage trees": aliens.fandom.com/wiki/Stage_Tree_(Known_Space) ) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jan 21, 2020 at 6:03
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    $\begingroup$ The seed could be coated with fire resistant resin but promote diarrhea in animals. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Jan 21, 2020 at 8:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Li Jun: By violating conservation of energy, I meant photosynthesis. A plant can't collect enough energy to burn continuously. (Indeed, its metabolism, like that of animals, is basically just slow-motion burning.) Pyrophile plants like some Banksias need fire to reproduce, but they don't actually start the fires themselves. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jan 21, 2020 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Li Jun: No, eucalyptus is not at all what I meant by a "phoenix tree", since it doesn't set itself on fire to reproduce, or necessarily destroy itself in the process. Beyond that, my point is that the tree has to have some way to collect the energy that it releases in burning. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jan 23, 2020 at 3:35
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    $\begingroup$ who knew a tree decided to evolve to cause forest fires. $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2020 at 6:15

2 Answers 2


Not really an option the way you want it, where it is always on fire. Fire takes a LOT of energy that the tree needs to build up over time.

Let's build a situation where it might make sense to exist with limited time:

On the continent of Worse Than Australia, funghi and various insects are a huge threat for plant life. They infest trees and kill them over the course of a few, short years.

But one kind of tree, the Fire Tree, built a protection against those parasites. At first, it evolved a poison in the leaves to kill the funghi and insects befalling it.

This had two effects:

  • The parasites died at first, but adapted
  • The poison was flammable, so forest fires happened regularly in groves of Fire Trees

So the Fire Trees themselves adapted, building a cork-like bark, similarly resistant to fire.

And over time their fruits evolved to release other chemicals in their rotting process that would react with the flammable poisons in the leaves.

So every year around autumn, the Fire Tree would at some point drop its fruits, after a while they would start to rot and start the chemical reaction setting the partially fallen leaves on fire. Keeping most of the tree intact, but killing all parasites once a year.


This is semi-science based and more in the spirit of "speaking burning thing".

You need a tree that have leaves which are producing a lot of oxygen when they mature. Which is near the same time the seeds are ready to ripe.

Now the trees are seeding themself on altitudes where oxygen is scarce due to gravity. But the threes are located in pockets where that oxygen is held. Like a canyon going down that have a dead end. That also gather any soil that is blown with wind and birds that try to fly out suffocate and drop dead at the bottom.

So you have oxygen rich envritoment. A fuel in the form of seeds husks. Now you need the temperature to start the fire. This is where the compost from animals come in play. It generate a nice warm mulch, that combined with sun reflecting on white objects start the fire. OR you know, some dude staff or forehead band that have some glass or jewellery.

And the fire don't last long as the oxygen is very fast burned.

Bonus thing is that oil from husks and the husks opening in fire make for the "talking" sounds. Pop, sizzle, crackling and it all magnified and echoed in canyon walls.


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