Archive for November 25, 2009

Poodle Bites

It’s called the Poodle Dog Bush, and while that name makes it sound like one of the sweet, quirky characters from Dr. Seuss’s books — it’s actually one of the junkyard dogs of the plant world.

 Photo courtesy sedges_have_edges of under Creative Commons license 
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Turricula parryi  bites.   Like the demon spawn of stinging nettle and poison ivy, the deviously attractive plant causes severe dermatitis in everyone who touches – or even smells it.
The leaves, flowers and stem of living and dead plants cause adverse reactions.  Symptoms include pain, itching, swelling and blistering of the skin and mucous membranes.  In bit of added trickery, symptoms often don’t show up until 12-36 hours after contact and they can last for weeks.

The poodle dog bush tempts hikers with quirky good looks.  Like a cross between Joshua tree and trumpet flower, it blooms from June though August.  The plant prefers recent burns, disturbed areas and chaparral slopes from the southern Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley south to Baja California.  The only hint you may get of its evil intent is a strong, foul odor.  The poodle dog bush is covered with stiff microscopic hairs known as trichomes.  The trichomes emit prenylated phenolic compounds that cause the dermatitis (and probably also the foul odor).

November 25, 2009 at 3:16 am 3 comments

Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


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November 2009