The hills are alive with…. Dodder?
When I started my home inspection business in October 2001, one of the first things my attorneys cautioned me about was saying too much at the inspection. “Let your written words tell what you know or discovered.”
Back in 2008 I got a phone call from a very unhappy real estate agent basically telling me that I should have shut up and just done my job. Here’s the problem, though. If I just shut up and do my job, and something goes wrong down the road, something significant, everyone connected with the transaction will be sued. It’s the law of lawsuits: “Sue everyone to maximize the monetary results.” It often works because everyone will settle out of court, which is done by throwing various amounts of money at the plaintiff.
Part of my job as a home inspector is to try to create a relationship with my Clients so that if they ever need help with something, they will call ME instead of their attorney! I want the opportunity to resolve any problems, or perceived problems, BEFORE they call their attorney. The problem with creating relationships is that they are very difficult to create during the course of a 3- or 4-hour inspection.
So what caused the phone call from the agent? The house didn’t have any big-ticket problems, but she told me that my Clients had canceled the purchase based on what I said about the vegetation. The particular vegetation in question was this stuff:
It’s called dodder, and right now the hills are alive with it.
This particular species is California dodder (Cuscuta californica), also called chaparral dodder. Dodder is considered a noxious weed here. Looking like a mass of spaghetti, it is a parasitic vine. The leaves are very small scales along the stems, and the flowers and berries are also very small. It is not green because it has no need for photosynthesis since it gets all its nutrients from the host, which it will eventually smother and kill.
Local dodder names throughout the world include devil’s guts, devil’s hair, devil’s ringlet, hailweed, hairweed, hellvine, pull-down, strangleweed, and witch’s hair. That pretty much tells you what people throughout the world think of it.
The property I inspected was in central San Diego and had beautiful canyon views. However, the property and the canyon were covered with dodder. When my Client asked me if I knew what all the orange stuff was, I told him that it was dodder. I also told him that it is considered a noxious weed and is very difficult to remove because it gets a stranglehold on the host plant. I renovated a large property in Mt. Helix from 1999 to 2001 that was covered with dodder. I wound up chopping the host plants down and starting all over with the landscaping.
My Client didn’t buy the property because of the dodder. He told me that although the house had a beautiful canyon view, the dodder throughout the property AND the canyon looked bad, and since he would not be able to remove the dodder on city property in the canyon, he decided to look elsewhere for a home.
As far as I know, this is the only property I ever inspected where the purchase was canceled because of vegetation.
Posted on April 26, 2012, in Flora, Mother & Father Nature, Out & About, Photos and tagged Cuscuta californica, devil's guts, devil's hair, devil's ringlet, dodder, hailweed, hairweed, hellvine, pull-down, strangleweed, witch's hair. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.