FireWorks for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Northern Cascades - M16: Buried Treasures: Identifying Plants by their Underground Parts
Course Type: FireWorks activities
Availability: Public access
Author(s): FireWorks Educational Program
  • Ilana L. Abrahamson
    US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program
Date Created: October 16, 2017

Cataloging Information

  • plants
  • species identification
Partner Site(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: February 17, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 25043


Lesson Overview: Students examine specimens of nine plant species - grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs - and use a dichotomous key to identify them based on their “buried treasures” - underground parts that can sprout after fire and grow new plants.

Lesson Goal: To increase student understanding that plants have many ways to survive wildland fire and/or reproduce successfully after fire, including underground structures.


  • Students can recognize different kinds of underground plant parts that can sprout new plants (bulb, rhizome, root crown, caudex) after fire.
  • Students can use a dichotomous key to determine the species of each one.
Online Link(s):
Handout M16-1 (51 KB; pdf)
Handout M16-2 (68 KB; pdf)
M16: Buried Treasure RM (3.7 MB; ppt)