Outdoor Safety Update: Poisonous Plant – The Poodle Dog Bush

Posted by on July 28, 2011

Beware Of Poisonous Poodle-Dog Bush, Officials Warn

Campers, hikers, emergency crews and park rangers are learning the hard way about a little-known poisonous plant that has painted the hillsides of the Angeles National Forest a lovely lavender this summer: the poodle-dog bush. A species of plant that thrives in areas scorched by wildfire, the lavender-flowered Turricula parryi packs a bite. Skin contact can cause rashes, blisters, swelling and general irritation.

The plant appears only periodically and is frequently mistaken for lupine, which also has purple flowers. Fields of poodle-dog wend between the blackened skeletons of burnt trees and throughout much of the 250 square miles that were razed by the largest wildfire in Los Angeles County history.

Terry Young, a biologist who has studied animals and plants in the San Gabriel Mountains, said many of California’s native plants are toxic. And many germinate only after an event that would be considered destructive to humans, animals and other plants — such as a flash flood or a wildfire.

Those who tangle with poodle-dog say the experience is similar to handling poison oak, but you probably won’t find any warnings about it in a Boy Scout field manual. They also say it’s not an experience you’re likely to forget.

People going into the Angeles National Forest (or other areas burned by fire recently) are advised to wear long pants and shirts with long sleeves and avoid to walking through these flowers, no matter how inviting they may look.

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