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Southern California’s Wild Side Plants. Plants. Poison Oak AKA: Western Poison-oak, Pacific Poison-oak Best known for its ability to cause allergic rashes after contact.

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Poison Oak AKA: Western Poison-oak, Pacific Poison-oak

  • Best known for its ability to cause allergic rashes after contact.
  • Leaves and twigs have a surface oil, urushiol (an organic oil toxin found in some plants, which can cause an allergic skin rash on contact, known as urushiol-induced contact dermatitis).

Poison Oak Grows as a dense shrub in open sunlight, or as a climbing vine in shaded areas. The leaves are divided into three leaflets, 2 to 3 inches long, with scalloped, toothed, or lobed edges- generally resembling the leaves of a true oak.


Poison Oak

  • Around 15% to 30% of people have no allergic response, but most will become sensitized over time with repeated or more concentrated exposure to urushiol.
  • Causes severe itching, evolving into inflammation, non colored bumps, and blistering when scratched.
  • Treatment.

California ManrootAKA:Wild Cucumber, Cucamonga Manroot

  • The roots of the California Manroot were often crushed and thrown into surface waters by the Kumeyaay Native Americans to immobilize and catch fish.
  • The fruit of the California Manroot contain a toxin called cucurbitacin (a natural pesticide) that is poisonous if ingested.Eating the fruits and seeds of this plant can cause severe stomach cramps and diarrhea that lasts for several days.

YuccaAKA:Soapweed or Spanish Bayonet, Narrow Leaved Yucca, Chaparral Yucca, Our Lord’s Candle

  • Narrow Leaved Yucca is one of many varieties of yucca thathabitat dry hillsides from desert, plains to foothills.
  • The fibers of the leaves were used by Native Americans to make rope, sandals, and cloth.

YuccaAKA:Soapweed or Spanish Bayonet, Narrow Leaved Yucca, Chaparral Yucca, Our Lord’s Candle

  • The flowers and fruit can be eaten and the black seeds were ground into flour.
  • Roots can be used to make soap, and can be found in the produce sections of latin markets.


  • Roots can be cooked like a potato baked or fried. The wood from yucca is great for making fires.
  • The leaves of this particular variety are ridged with needle sharp tips that will penetrate most clothing and safety equipment, and can leave you with a nasty puncture wound requiring medical attention if encountered with enough force. Extreme caution is to be used when working with narrow leaved yucca, especially in the area of eye protection.

Poodle Dog Bush

  • Found in chaparral, on slopes and ridges. Its seeds can remain dormant in soil for long periods, with the plant springing up quickly when the soil is disturbed or after a wildfire.
  • Very common in the Angeles in areas burned by the 2009 Station Fire in
  • It grows into a moderate size, perennial woody shrub, branching from the base but with main stems extending for up to 9 feet tall.

Poodle Dog Bush

  • Flowers from June to August, having clusters of attractive bell-shaped blue, lavender or purple flowers which have a rank smell.
  • Causes severe irritation if touched, akin to poison oak or stinging nettle. It can raise blisters lasting as long as two weeks.

Prickly Pear Cactus AKA:Paddle Cactus

  • The fruit of prickly pears, commonly called cactus figs, Indian fig or tuna, is edible, although it has to be peeled carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin before consumption.

Prickly Pear Cactus

If the outer layer is not properly removed, glochids (which are

tiny, finely barbed hair-like spines

found on some cacti and other

plants) can be ingested causing discomfort of the throat, lips, and

tongue as the small spines are

easily lodged in the skin.



  • They are evergreen shrubs or small trees present in thechaparral habitat of western North America.


  • They are evergreen shrubs or smalltrees present in the chaparralhabitat of western North America.
  • Traditional uses of the plant include collecting the berries, drying them, and grinding them up into a coarse meal. Fresh berries and branch tips can be soaked in water and drunk, making a refreshing cider. When the bark curls off, it can be used as a tea for nausea and upset stomach.


  • The younger leaves aresometimes plucked and chewed by hikers to deter thirst.
  • Native Americans used Manzanita leaves as toothbrushes.

Dodder Vine AKA:Devil's guts, Devil's hair, Devil's ringlet, Goldthread, Hailweed, Hairweed, Hellbine, Love vine, Pull-down, Strangleweed, and Witch's hair.

  • One of about 100-170 species of yellow, orange or red(rarely green) parasitic plants.
  • Dodder seeds sprout at or near the surface of the soil. While doddergermination can occur without a host, it has to reach a green plant quickly; dodder grows toward the smell of nearby plants.

Dodder Vine

After a dodder attaches itself to aplant, it wraps itself around it. If thehost contains food beneficial to dodder, the dodder produceshaustoria(parasitic fungus) thatinsert themselves into the vascularsystem of the host. While it’s not to the advantage for a parasite tokill its host, dodder generally will notkill its host, but if the infestation issevere enough, it may result in thedeath of the host plant.