Here in the desert, an important lesson that parents must teach their kids is to keep a respectful distance from the poisonous plants (and animals) that live here.
"See this plant?" the parents say, "This is a Lupine. Never ever eat this plant; it will make you sick. And even though it's beautiful, don't pick the leaves or the flowers. Just enjoy it where it sits."
Many poisonous plants are commonly used in landscaping. Wisteria, for example, Clematis, Sweet Pea and Rhododendron. Since most kids won't eat the vegetables on their plates, let alone the leaves and flowers in the garden, it's more or less safe to use them. But, it's always a good idea to place them logically, and tell your kids about them. A respectful distance is all they need.
Here is a list of the more common plants that you might come across. Remember: don't let children play with these plants. Never eat their leaves or flowers, either raw or cooked, and don't use them on the dinner plate as garnish.
In the mountains around here -- especially in the autumn -- you sometimes see the beautiful Poison Oak vines growing up the tall conifers or tangled around the bases of fence posts and neglected mail box posts. The lesson is simple: keep your distance! Do not touch!
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