Monday, September 14, 2015

One to know: Ocotillo

Photo by Matt Ball 8/30/2015

Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) has a distinctive look! It's lush when in leaf; looks like dead sticks when it's not. It's not a cactus (cacti don't have leaves), but it is a well-adapted desert plant. The flowers generally bloom in the spring and are favorites of hummingbirds. The flowers are edible by humans, but unless you have an ocotillo in your yard, leave them for the birds. (Difficult to harvest, too.)

My friend Heather sent me Shannon Hayes's review of How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature by Scott D. Sampson. (Thanks, Heather!) Hayes writes:

As chief curator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and host of the PBS KIDS television series Dinosaur Train, Sampson argues that the current disconnect between kids and the natural world is a threat to their physical, mental, and emotional health. One study he cites found that the average American child spends less than seven minutes a day outdoors, but racks up more than seven hours per day staring at screens. Sampson says that children can recognize more than 10,000 corporate logos, but fewer than 10 plants native to their region.

Even taking these numbers with the proverbial grain of salt and keeping in mind that every generation says: "Kids these days ...",  I still think we can reasonably say that it might be good to get kids of all ages outside more often - completely free of all gadgets. Let's all look - really look - at plants, at dirt, at clouds. See what we can see.

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