Teaching Children about Picking Flowers

I saw Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers in bloom on Friday during my afternoon hike.
The appearance of this common wildflower is my cue to remind families to teach their children to not pick wildflowers.

One of the hills where we play has a remarkable population of blue flax flowers. These flowers are extremely fragile and last only briefly. We have been playing in the park for 8 years now and I am pleased to say that we have had little to no impact on this population of wild flowers.

Why not?

Because we don’t pick them.

Because we don’t play there while the plants are immature and flowering.

And because the children and I carefully gather a few seeds and spread them along the slopes to help keep them off where we play most often.

Please don’t pick the wildflowers

I’ll offer a story as to why this makes a significant impact on your child’s development and the world in which we live:

One spring we had a new student at preschool.

This student was an enthusiastic lover of nature and truly cared deeply about their impact on the world.

This child really wanted to pick the delicate blue flax flowers that grow on a hill near where we play. There were more flowers on a steep slope near our pick-up location.

I told the child they were not to pick the flowers or any wildflowers because then there will not be wildflowers next year.

They promised not to pick them and I showed them which flowers (dandelions) it was ok to pick.

When this child was picked up by his parent they immediately asked their mom if they could go and pick the wildflowers.

Their mom obliged them and they both scrambled down the steep bank to pick the flower I had just spent 2 hours teaching them not to pick.

The unstable soil of the sandy slope let go and the child uprooted the entire plant.

They carried the plant to their car where it was immediately forgotten and left to die in the sunny parking lot.

The next week I showed the child that there were no flowers on the hillside anymore.

The child looked down sheepishly and admitted that they had picked the flowers.

I restated my lesson and they promised not to pick anymore wildflowers.

A version of this story plays out every single year.

This is upland larkspur or Delphinium nuttallianum. It is a beautiful and delicate purple flower that was once abundant along our steep sagebrush covered slopes.

The ONLY reason it does not grow anymore is because it spreads via seed and the seed heads cannot form because people pick it or they allow their children to pick it.

I have seen a handful of plants in Peterson over the years and they ALWAYS get picked.

In fact the only place I do see this plant still is either on First Nations land or far from the main trail.

This is what our hillsides could look like.

There are probably countless wildflowers that share this fate. A visit to the Neskonlith flower meadows shows us just how degraded and desecrated our hillsides truly are.

All of the same flowers are native to our area as well.

And as I mentioned hillsides that do not see so many visitors definitely have more wildflowers.

So please….teach your children….help us all live in a more beautiful abundant and biodiverse world.

Don’t Pick the Wildflowers!

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