Herbs & Plants

Nerium odoratum

Botaniical Name: Nerium odoratum
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Apocynoideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales
Tribe: Nerieae
Genus: Nerium
Species:N. oleander

*Oleander Medik.
*Nerion Tourn. …
*Nerion oleandrum St. …
*Nerium carneum Dum. …
*Nerium flavescens Spin.

Common Names: Oleander or Nerium

Habitat: Nerium odoratum is native to Mediterranean Basin. It grows typically around stream beds in river valleys, where it can alternatively tolerate long seasons of drought and inundation from winter rains. Nerium odoratum is planted in many subtropical and tropical areas of the world.

Nerium oleander is an evergreen shrub or small tree with thin, erect branches; it can grow to a height of 4 – 8 metres. It is tolerant to both drought and inundation, but not to prolonged frost. White, pink or red five-lobed flowers grow in clusters year-round, peaking during the summer. The fruit is a long narrow pair of follicles, which splits open at maturity to release numerous downy seeds.
A very poisonous plant it is sometimes gathered from the wild for medicinal and other uses. It is often cultivated as an ornamental plant, where it can be grown as a hedge.


Nerium oleander is native to semi-arid , warm temperate to subtropical regions from the Mediterranean through southern Asia to India. It can be cultivated in the drier regions of tropical to warm temperate climates. The plant is not very cold-hardy, being able to tolerate short periods with temperatures down to around -5 to -8°c when fully dormant, so long as the soil is well-drained.
Requires a position in full sun. Prefers a heavy soil. Prefers a light soil according to another report. Prefers a fertile well-drained soil. Lime tolerant. Plants are very tolerant of heat and also of drought once they are established. Grows well in maritime gardens, tolerating salt-laden winds and saline soils.
Widely cultivated as an ornamental in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate regions, Nerium oleander has often escaped from cultivation. In some countries it has become naturalized and in some of these it is declared invasive.
A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties.
The flowers have a soft sweet perfume.
Plants can flower freely all year round in some areas.
Plants can be shy to flower in cooler regions when the plant is grown outdoors.

Through Seed – sow in pots in a nursery. Do not use seed from pods infected with the bacterial disease ‘oleander knot’. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the nursery until 15cm tall or more
Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots in a frame. Good percentage.
Cuttings of mature leading shoots.

Medicinal Uses:
Oleander is a very poisonous plant, containing a powerful cardiac toxin, and should only be used with extreme caution.

The leaves and the flowers are cardiotonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant and sternutatory. A decoction of the leaves has been applied externally in the treatment of scabies and parasitic skin worms, and to reduce swellings.

The root is powerfully resolvent. Because of its poisonous nature it is only used externally. It is beaten into a paste with water and applied to chancres and ulcers on the penis.

An oil prepared from the root bark is used in the treatment of leprosy and skin diseases of a scaly nature.

Oleandrin (neriolin), a cardiotonic glucosides extracled from the leaves, has a salutary effect when used in the treatment of heart failure. It is more quickly absorbed by mouth and is less cumulative than digitoxin.

The whole plant is said to have anticancer properties.

Other Uses:
The plant is commonly used for informal hedging in the Mediterranean.
The plants have an extensive root system and are often used to stabilize soil in warmer areas.

The plant is used as a rat poison, a parasiticide and an insecticide. The pounded leaves and bark are used as an insecticide.
An aqueous maceration of the pounded seeds can be used as an insecticide.

A green dye is obtained from the flowers.

The leaves contain small amounts of latex that can be used to make rubber, though the amount is too small for commercial utilization.
A sticky lates exudes if the stems are cut.

Known Hazards: The whole plant is very poisonous. Skin contact with the plant can cause irritation whilst ingestion of only one leaf has led to death in children. Death has been known to follow the use of the wood of this plant as a meat skewer.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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