Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

February 20, 2018

The deadliest, most poisonous plant in Phoenix - oleander

A plant that grows well in the Phoenix area, and which is very common, is the oleander. It's also among the top seven deadliest plants in the world, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica. And it is! The plant is extremely poisonous, and if you or your dog or cat chew on it, it can be fatal. Fortunately, it tastes awful (I've never tasted it, but apparently it is).

I know about this because every once in a while someone will point out to me that my favorite plant, the cycad, is very poisonous. And it is! If your dog chews on a cycad, or an oleander, you may lose your best friend. I taught my dog not to chew on plants.

As someone who loves gardens, plants and trees, I know the drawbacks. If you've ever accidentally gotten some of the sap of an agave on your skin, you know it burns like crazy. And if you've ever backed into it (I have!) you know that it's deadly sharp. The list goes on and on. Even rose bushes can leave you bleeding if you don't have heavy duty gloves.

The solution for some people is to have no plants at all, or just rocks, which I call a moonscape. And if your house is surrounded by nothing but rocks and concrete, you know that it reflects back a lot of heat. And I'd rather not make my little part of Arizona any hotter than it needs to be. So I have plants, and trees.

I encourage you to surround yourself with plants. Yes, you're going to find lots of reasons why you shouldn't, usually from people who have read something recently on the internet. And yes, there are a lot of reasons not to have any plants in the desert, they use water, they require maintenance, many desert-adapted plants are just deadly. And there's only one reason to have them, because they make for an oasis, which is a nice place to live.

By the way, here's that article about deadly plants: Oleander is number 2
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