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SCV Outdoor Report: Poodle-Dog Bush

By Wendy Langhans

After several days of “June gloom”, the sun finally came out.  Time to ditch the worked piled up on my desk and go for a mind-clearing walk along the nearby paseo.  I was enjoying my walk when my eye caught a flash of color – a lavender-colored plant – that looked to be about 9-10 feet tall. “What on earth….?”  I’ve walked along this path too many times to count, but I had never noticed this plant before.  I decided to check it out.




Poodle-Dog Bush can reach a height of 9 feet or more.

With it’s tall, flowering stalks, it looked to be twice my height.  And with it’s tubular shaped purple blossoms, it looked somewhat like a Yerba Santa on growth hormones.  That was the hint I need to do some research.


Close-up of Poodle-Dog Bush


Close-up of Yerba Santa

I discovered it was a Poodle-Dog bush – Turricula parryi – to be precise.  But I still had a bunch of questions.  Where did it come from?  How come I hadn’t noticed it before?  And where on earth did they come up with this name?

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Poodle-Dog bush is a perennial plant, adapted to fire, that is often found in areas that have recently burned.  It’s seeds can lie dormant in the ground for years.  Aha!  The area where I spotted it had burned two years ago, in June of 2009.  I suspect it took two years to reach the “towering” height that finally caught my eye.


Fire of 2009

The plant’s scientific name, “Turricula”, is derived from Latin word for “little tower”.  And the plant’s common name, Poodle-Dog bush, comes from its shape, which looks a bit like a manicured poodle.  But hikers beware – this is a “dog” you don’t want to pet.  Contact with this plant can cause a nasty rash and blisters that can last as long as two weeks.

I’m glad I didn’t learn this the hard way.  It’s a good thing my camera has a telephoto lens.


Upcoming Outdoor Events:

Sunday, June 12, 7 – 9 PM, Moonlight Stroll at Towsley Canyon.  Wander the trails under our nearly full moon.  Uncover which plants and animals are adapted to this transition time and maybe even see a few elusive nocturnal animals.  Meet at the Towsley Canyon front parking lot.  For directions and trail maps, click here.

Saturday, June 18, 8 – 10 AM.  Early Morning Bird Hike at Towsley Canyon.  Meet at the Towsley Canyon front parking lot.  For directions and trail maps, click here.

Trail Maintenance Schedule.  Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails.  Contact Steve at for time and place.

Wednesday mornings, June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29.

Saturday mornings, June 11 & 25.


You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The SCV Outdoor Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, click here or go to

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SCV Outdoor Report: Poodle-Dog Bush

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