By Mary O’KEEFE and Jessy SHELTON
The Angeles National Forest is coming back to life after the devastating Station Fire of almost two years ago. Some areas are carpeted with beautiful purple flowers that pose as a perfect bouquet just waiting to be picked for the dinner table. But don’t let those petals fool you because one touch can cause a painful rash that can last for over two weeks.
Common turricula, or the Poodle-dog bush, is a plant that has blossomed, taking several hikers and emergency responders by surprise.
The plant has affected three deputies at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station, and one Montrose Search and Rescue member is also suffering from the poison oak-type affects.
“It was a complete surprise,” said Sgt. Gibson from CV Sheriff’s Station.
The plant has similar effects of poison oak that can cause a severe rash that begins with itching and can then turn into blistering.
“This is different than poison ivy; this has a delayed effect,” Gibson said.
There can be a10-day incubation period between exposure to the plant and the first symptoms.
“It is an itching rash, almost blister,” said Dr. John Rodarte, Montrose Search and Rescue member. “[The rash] doesn’t have to be just where you touch or brush up it. The rash can go everywhere.”
The effects are reported to last two weeks; however, both Gibson and Rodarte said it can last much longer.
“I have seen [the effects] last for three or four weeks,” Rodarte said.
At first doctors that treated the deputies were not certain of what had caused the symptoms because the Poodle-dog bush had not been seen in Angeles National Forest – not until after the Station Fire.
“[The plant] needs a major disturbance,” said Nathan Judy, fire information officer with the U.S. Forest Service. “We are pulling it out, but it grows back right after we pull it.”
The plant is found in areas in California including Baja California, in the southern Sierra Nevada and the San Joaquin Valley.
“It is everywhere. The [mountain] is filled with it,” Rodarte said. “It is blooming June through August.”
Before the purple flower blossoms, the plant is green, leafy and stalk-like. When it blooms the purple flowers can get as tall as nine feet.
The flowers are pretty, Rodarte said.
At one campsite he saw that someone had placed a stem of the flower in a vase on a table.
Like poison ivy and poison oak, everyone is affected differently. Rodarte has walked through a field of the flowers and has not been affected while with others it only takes a quick brush past the plant.
Rodarte said for those who have a reaction to the plant, it is best to use a topical over-the-counter steroid cream.
“We just want to get the word out. To let people know to be careful,” Rodarte said.