Facts about Oleander
Nerium oleander, better known as Oleander or Nerium, is a shrub or small tree that is cultivated worldwide in temperate and subtropical zones as an ornamental and landscape plant belonging to the Apocynaceae family. Oleander grows in well-drained soil in areas that have enough sunlight. It lives mainly in hot and tropical climates. Oleander tolerates drought and temperatures close to freezing for a short time. In addition to being popular in horticulture, oleander can be used in the pharmaceutical industry to make various medicinal products.
Oleander has many nicknames ranging from all different languages. In Africa they may call it Selonsroos or in Arabic they might call it Haban.
Size of oleander depends on the variety. It grows in the form of shrub that can reach from 3 to 20 feet in height. Most species are 8 to 12 feet tall.
In English speaking countries it is often referred to as Oleander or Rose Bay.
Oleander grows quickly, usually 1 to 2 feet per year. Stem is thick and covered with grey bark.
The name Nerium oleander most likely stems from the greek word Neros meaning grows in a wet habitat and olea meaning olive.
Leaves are thick and leathery. They are narrow and usually 4 to 6 inches long.
Oleander is actually an invasive species to North America as it originated in the Mediterranean area.
Oleander develops yellow, white, pink, light orange and red flowers that are often gathered in clusters, located at the end of the branches. Most species of oleanders produce fragrant flowers.
There is actually an International Oleander Society and every year they have an Oleander festival dedicated specifically to this organism.
Fruit of oleander is called capsule. Each capsule contains large number of fluffy seeds.
The alluring flowers of this plant are a hazard for accidental ingestion.
Oleander is best known by its toxicity. Each part of the plant contains toxins.
All parts of the plant possess cardiac glycosides which includes roots.
Poisoning will be induced even after consumption of minimal amounts of this plant. Whistles made of oleander’s stem can induce poisoning of children. Toxic effects are visible both in humans and animals.
Oleander grows 12 feet high with erect stems splaying outward when mature.
Typical symptoms of oleander poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeats, dizziness and seizures.
In the first year, stems are glaucous and when matured have grayish bark.
Besides via ingestion, poisoning can be induced by touching the plant and tree sap with bare hands. Also, inhalation of smoke of burning oleander induces toxic effects in humans.
Leaves form in pairs or whorls of three, usually leathery, thick, dark green, narrow lanceolate and measures 5 to 21 cm long and 1-3.5 cm (0.39-1.4 in) broad with entire margin.
Leaves and seeds of oleander are used in the manufacture of medicines for asthma, epilepsy, painful menstrual cycles, warts and other skin conditions.
Flowers bloom in clusters at the end of each branch usually in spring and summer.
Polka-Dot Wasp Moth is a type of insects which consumes oleander without visible side effects. It eats all parts of the leaves except veins.
lowers are white, pink to red about 2.5-5 cm (0.98-2 in) diameter and have five petals with deeply 5-lobed fringed corolla round the central corolla tube.
Common Crow Butterfly consumes oleander during the larval stage. By storing toxins in the body, this animal increases its chances for survival (large predators, such as birds, do not consume these larvae).
Flowers give way to a long and narrow capsule 3-6 inches long which splits open when matured in order to release diverse downy seeds.
Despite their toxicity, there are over 300 varieties of oleander that are grown because of their ornamental morphology. The most popular types of oleanders are Algiers, Calypso, Hardy Red, Petite Salmon and Sister Agnes.
The plant parts such as bark, flowers, leaf juice and latex leaves are used to treat microbial and fungal diseases.
Oleander is official flower of Hiroshima. It was the first plant that managed to blossom after devastating effects produced by atomic bomb in the 1945.
Leaves and bark acts as a heart tonic, expectorant, emetic, diuretic and diaphoretic.
Oleander can be easily cultivated and it can survive couple of decades.