Dragnet put out for invasive new plant

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John PhillipsThree to six feet tall when fully grown, soda apple has thorny stems with broad, droopy leaves and white flowers that develop into marble-sized, toxic fruits that are first green with white markings, then leathery and yellow when mature. Soda apple can spread quickly, displacing natural plants and covering fields with leaves that are noxious to livestock. This relative of the potato can also host diseases that attack vegetable crops. Naturally, McDonough was anxious to learn how it found its way to his office – and whether it’s taken root in California. “If this thing is spreading, it could cause a real problem,” he said. McDonough thought a quick call to the phone number Robert left would provide him answers to his questions. But his efforts have so far proven fruitless: He has been calling for three days now to no avail. On Thursday, McDonough dropped the plant off with the county for official identification. Protocol calls for a survey to be done around the area where the plant is first found to prevent its spread, said Ray Smith, deputy director of the county’s agricultural commission. But without help from Robert, officials have no idea where to start. “I suspect he will be pretty willing to help,” Smith said, “once he realizes what a find he’s made.” [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4494 [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4451160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! ARCADIA – A mystery has taken root at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. Employees there are looking for a man known only as “Robert,” who showed up at the botanic gardens Monday with a fresh cutting of a highly invasive and poisonous weed never before seen in California. With a little help from Google Images, Arboretum botanist Frank McDonough quickly identified the two-and-a-half-foot branch as soda apple – a plant typically known for wreaking havoc in the South. “Nothing ever exciting happens when you’re a botanist,” said McDonough. “It’s kind of a black pleasure, finding something that could be a pest.” last_img read more