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Poisonous Flower

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September 02, 2005 11:28AM
Inland flower packs punch
FOREST: The poodle-dog bush, linked to fire and fed by winter rains, can cause severe dermatitis.
12:00 AM PDT on Friday, September 2, 2005
By BEN GOAD / The Press-Enterprise

A stunning but stinky pest lurks among the cornucopia of flowers emblazoning hillsides and meadows across the San Bernardino National Forest.

The poodle-dog bush, a towering green plant with purple blossoms, is easy to confuse with the vast array of harmless, colorful flowers brought by last winter's relentless rainstorms.

But officials are warning forest crews, hikers and other nature enthusiasts to beware of the poodle-dog's irritating bite.

Last week, state fire officials issued a public advisory to warn of the dangers of picking or touching the plant. The pungent flower can cause severe dermatitis: blistering, rash, swelling and itching if touched.
Abigail Forrest, who is working to become a forester with the California Department of Forestry (where her father, Doug Forrest, also was a forester), said she stumbled upon the plant outside her Lake Arrowhead home earlier this summer.

A short time later, she noticed a rash on her arm, followed by painful burning.

"I didn't even touch it on purpose, because I'd never seen it before," said Forrest, who grew up in Lake Arrowhead. "It must have just brushed against me." ...............................

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Poodle-dog bush blooms in the summer and is common on dry and chaparral-covered slopes across southwestern California. It is particularly heavy in the aftermath of large fires. In late October 2003, the Old and Grand Prix fires merged to form a chain of fire stretching west from Highland to the Los Angeles County line. Roughly 1,000 homes were destroyed and 100,000 people were evacuated as the worst fire in Inland history burned for several days.

The following summer, officials and crews began noticing the poodle-dog on blackened swaths of forest.


Poisonous Flower

katrina island 3561September 02, 2005 11:28AM

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