Texas Springtime

Final-Redbud-TreeEastern Redbud Tree

The days have been speeding by, and suddenly spring is upon us.  The best sign of this is the bluebonnets that have begun to bloom with abandon.  In just a couple of weeks the hillsides here will be literally carpeted in the most lovely shade of blue.  It really is a stunning site to see, and something that we wait for yearly in central Texas!

In my own yard my 20 year old eastern redbud tree is in all it’s glory with profuse tiny fuschia pink blooms.  The fog several days ago really brought out it’s glory, only exaggerating the pink blooms against the misty sky.  What a wonderful sight!

Final-Coral-VineCoral Vine

Other plants already in bloom in my yard include my coral vine (trained as shrubs), my succulents. the pretty delicate blooms of oxalis, and the clusters of blooms on my native blackhaw viburnum.  The lambs ear plants are not blooming yet, but they are beautiful year round here, and in another couple of weeks my iris will be alive with deep purple blooms.  Those are my very favorites.  I hope you are enjoying Spring wherever you are.  What are your favorite springtime plants?




Pets and Toxic Plants


While working in the yard this morning, I started thinking about all the many garden plants that are toxic to dogs and cats.  With so many truly beautiful choices in plantings, I am mindful not to choose ones that could potentially be a problem.  Although all four of my cats are kept strictly indoors, I do have neighbor cats that sometimes join me while I am working outside, and of course my dog is regularly allowed outside.

According to the ASPCA, the number of plant poisonings in dogs increases during the warm summer months.  In some cases the quick urge to taste a bit of plant in the great outdoors can be fatal.  And some ornamental plants such as rhododendrons are particularly toxic, and pets should be kept away from them.  I can’t grow those here (my soil is too alkaline), but there are certainly other plants grown in central Texas that are toxic to pets.  Also, nibbling on grass can be a problem if your yard has been treated with chemicals, so again be careful.

If your pet ingests part of a poisonous plant call your vet immediately.  The vet can give an injection that will induce vomiting.  If unsure about the toxicity of the plant ingested, phone your local poison control center for help, or the ASPCA’s  24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435.  Also, keep the tags from the plants you buy.  They have both the common name and the Latin name of the plant, as well as growing instructions.  These tags are good to keep for many reasons, but in this particular case because a toxicologist might need this information.

For a complete list of toxic (and non-toxic) plants to dogs and cats, see this ASPCA site. It also has great photos of toxic plants to aid in identification.  You can never be too careful!


Here is A Partial List of Toxic Plants:
Azalea — Abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Belladonna — Pupil dilation, hypothermia, muscle collapse
Bird-of-paradise — Abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Bulbs (hyacinth, narcissus family) — Abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Calla lily — Contains oxalate crystals which cause oral, pharyngeal and esophageal irritation, salivation and mucosal  edema (swelling)
Cardinal flower — Salivation, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
Castor bean — Vomiting, diarrhea and possible shock
Chinaberry tree — Convulsions
Daphne — Abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia) — Contains oxalate crystals which cause oral, pharyngeal and esophageal irritation, salivation and mucosal edema
Dutchman’s-breeches — Convulsions
Elephant’s Ear — Same as dumb cane
Hydrangea — Cyanide poisoning
Jack-in-the-pulpit — Same as dumb cane
Jasmine — Vomiting, diarrhea, mydriasis (pupil dilation), hyper-thermia, muscle collapse
Jimsonweed — Pupil dilation, hyperthermia, muscle collapse
Larkspur — Cardiovascular effects: nausea, slowed heartbeat, arrhythmia
Laurel — Abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Lily-of-the-valley — Same as larkspur
Oleander — Colic, diarrhea (possibly bloody), sweating, incoordination, shallow/difficult breathing, muscle tremors, and possibly death from cardiac failure.
Mescal bean — Nausea, salivation, vomiting, rapid heartbeat
Mushrooms — Acute gastric effects, liver and kidney damage, abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Nightshades — Delayed digestive tract effects
Philodendron — Same as dumb cane
Poinsettia — Sap irritates the mucous membranes
Prunus species (including apple seeds, but only when chewed) — Cyanide poisoning
Tobacco — Nausea, salivation, vomiting, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
Yellow Jasmine — Convulsions
Yews, Taxus species (Podocarpus species causes only mild gastroenteritis) — Gastroenteritis, cardiovascular collapse