Because the days are cooling off, fall is a time to hike and play outside in the semi-arid desert of Arizona. It’s also a planting time. All three, hiking, playing outdoors and planting are excellent ways to build intelligence in your child. Fall offers good times to teach about poisonous plants.
Linda Strader writes which plants can be started in the fall. Home Depot has a special sale on plants. However, the tags on the flowers seldom offer information on whether they are poisonous. So it is important to check before buying. Megan O’Neill writes of six backyard plants that can kill you.
Toddlers put everything in their mouths, so watching them is important. If you have a garden, start teaching :‘This is good to eat.‘ ‘This is NOT good to eat. It will give you a tummy ache and make you sick.’
Take a walk, and you will find oleander bushes and china berry trees growing just about everywhere in town. Oleander is a highly toxic, tall bush often used in hedges which can kill quickly. China berry trees have yellow berries which cause sickness and sometimes death.
On a hike, one might see jimsonweed. Some call it bush morning glory. This is hallucinatory and very dangerous, affecting your nervous system and causing death. Two others are locoweed - with flowers like a sweet pea, and foxglove -with blues to purple trumpet flowers.
Cactus is found in the yard and on hikes. The sap from century plants can burn and raise blisters. Some prickly pear have a fine fuzz of tiny thorns, making children think it is like a fuzzy toy. These thorns are extremely difficult to remove. A Teddy Bear cholla, or jumping cactus, will stick into clothes or arms and legs at the slightest touch - stay well out of reach.
Enjoy your hikes and gardens in our semi-arid state, but be careful of dangerous plants and cactus.