» Poisonous Plants » Oleander


Family: Apocynaceae

Scientific name: Nerium oleander L.

Common name: Oleander

Description: This tall shrub is in the dogbane family, but it differs from many species in that family because it does not have any milky juice in the stems and leaves. The leaves appear opposite or in whorls of three. They are lance shaped, entire and somewhat leathery. The showy clusters of flowers are located at the ends of branches and vary in color from white to pink and red. An interesting fact about N. oleander is that it doesn’t produce nectar and is an example of deceit pollination.

Occurrence: Oleanders were introduced from the Mediterranean and Asiatic regions and are now very popular as potted ornamentals and roadside planting.

Toxicity: Oleander contains two major cardiac glycosides, oleandroside and nerioside. All parts of the oleander, both green and dry, are extremely toxic. One leaf is considered sufficient to kill an adult. Numerous poisonings have resulted from using the branches to skewer frankfurters or other foods for roasting over open fires.

Symptoms: The toxic compounds in oleander produce nausea, severe stomach pains, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, irregular heartbeat, dilation of pupils, dizziness, drowsiness, respiratory paralysis, coma, and death.

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