poodlebushIf you’re headed out for a hike or mountain bike ride this spring in Southern California, keep an eye out for poodle-dog bush, a plant whose bite is much worse than its bark.

Hikers report dense patches of the plant, which can cause a nasty reaction when touched, along trails in the San Gabriel Mountains. Parts of the Pacific Crest Trail near Los Angeles are so overgrown with the plant, that hikers are being forced off the trail onto fire roads.

The best medicine with these plants is to avoid all contact. Touching them can cause anything from a mild rash to severe respiratory distress, and, for many people, symptoms are worse than a reaction to poison oak. Symptoms usually appear hours or days after touching the plant. Washing the area as soon as possible after exposure seems to be the only medical advice for dealing with it, other than going to the doctor if the reaction gets too bad.

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