Dangerous Poodle-Dog Bush Surfaces in SoCal

By Olsen Ebright
|  Monday, Jul 25, 2011  |  Updated 4:39 PM PDT
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After the Station Fire: Residents Return to Ruin

U.S. Forest Service

The poodle-dog bush has been spotted in the Angeles National Forest. (Photo Credit: U.S. Forest Service)

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It may not be the most intimidating dog in the canine kingdom, but when it comes to plant life, the poodle is quite ferocious.

Eriodictyon parryi -- commonly known as the poodle-dog bush -- has reportedly been spotted in the hills of La Cañada Flintridge. The plant is known as a "fire follower," meaning it typically appears just after fires. The latest resurgence is being attributed to the 2009 Station Fire, Bart O'Brien of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens told NBC LA.

The plant can be found in the southern Sierras and southern coast ranges, all the way into Baja California, O'Brien said.

"It can be highly allergenic to certain individuals, much like poison oak," O'Brien said. "Not everybody is susceptible but lots of people are."

Symptoms include swelling, itching, blistering and rash, which can last up to two weeks, according to the Forest Service.

Many people are unfamiliar with the plant, including some of the botanical organizations NBC LA called for interviews.

"A lot of people just aren't that familiar with it because it's a plant that's only seen years after a fire," O'Brien said. "Although they're spectacular, they typically haven't been grown ornamentally."

During a recent homicide investigation in Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, deputies came in contact with the purple plant, Sgt. Rod Kubly of the L.A. County Sheriff Department told the Los Angeles Times.

"They were out for a couple of weeks. They didn't know what the poodle bush was," Kubly told the newspaper.

O'Brien said the plant's poisonous nature acts a natural defense against herbivores looking for food after a fire. He also noted the plant does have its advantages.

"It does provide erosion control. It does provide lots of food for plant pollinators. There are a lot of positives it has. It's not that's it evil," O'Brien said.

However, "it's not a pleasant plant to come in contact with," O'Brien said.

"Certainly feel free to take pictures of it, but don't get too close."

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