1. Family: Apocynaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Nerium L.
      1. Nerium oleander L.

        Nerium oleander is a highly toxic ornamental shrub widely cultivated in the Mediterranean. It has been grown since ancient times and features in many of the Roman wall paintings in Pompeii.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Nerium oleander, commonly known as oleander, is a highly toxic plant that has been cultivated since ancient times.

    Nerium oleander is a highly toxic ornamental shrub widely cultivated in the Mediterranean. It has been grown since ancient times and features in many of the Roman wall paintings in Pompeii.

    Alexander the Great in his military campaigns is said to have lost men as a result of eating meat skewered on highly poisonous Nerium twigs.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Native to the Mediterranean region, Iran, the Indian subcontinent and southern China.

    Description

    Overview: An evergreen shrub (or small tree) that grows to approximately 6 m. A sticky latex is exuded if the stem is cut.

    Leaves: Leaves are usually in groups of three and narrowly lanceolate.

    Flowers:The flowers are tubular with five lobes, red or pink in the wild, but may be white, cream, yellow or purple in cultivars, and double forms have also been selected. Some are scented.

    Fruits: The fruit is composed of a pair of follicles that split along one side to release the seeds. The seeds are oblong, with a plume of hairs at one end.

    Threats and conservation

    Oleander is not threatened globally. Plants are threatened in the wild in some areas through excessive development, but will persist in cultivation.

    UsesOrnamental

    Nerium oleander is widely cultivated as an ornamental shrub or as an informal hedge in warm-temperate and dry subtropical regions, and as a plant for the conservatory in cooler climates.

    Pest control

    Oleander is highly poisonous to humans, pets, livestock and birds due to the presence of cardiac glycosides, mainly oleandrin. Ingestion causes nausea, vomiting, cardiac arrhythmias, hypotension (low blood pressure) and death. Its sap has been used as rat poison. The leaves also show insecticidal activity against sugarcane mite and citrus leafminer.

    Medicinal

    Oleandrin is used for treating cardiac conditions in patients who cannot tolerate digitalis. In traditional medicine, the leaves have been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, including the treatment of heart diseases, as a diuretic, antibacterial, and against snake-bite.The roots have been used externally in traditional medicine for treating cancer, ulcers and leprosy.

    Other

    In Western Sahara the ash from Nerium oleanderis mixed with saltpetre to make gunpowder.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

    Two collections of Nerium oleander seeds are held in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.

    See Kew's Seed Information Database for further information on Nerium oleander seeds

    Cultivation

    A tender plant, Nerium oleander can survive light frosts, but show signs of frost damage. It is a common landscape plant in tropical and subtropical climates and grows in a wide range of soils. It can withstand drought and salt spray, being widely used in coastal areas, and reacts well to full sun or partial shade. The species can be propagated by semi-ripened cuttings in summer or seeds. Hard pruning helps to maintain its shape.

    Distribution
    China, India
    Ecology
    Found mostly in seasonally dry rocky watercourses, in full sun.
    Conservation
    Least Concern according to IUCN Red List criteria.
    Hazards

    All parts of the plant are extremely toxic if eaten; contact with the sap may cause dermatitis; avoid inhaling smoke if burning plants.

    [FTEA]

    Apocynaceae, E.A. Omino. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2002

    Habit
    A shrub or small tree.
    Leaves
    Leaves opposite or ternate, thick and poisonous.
    Flowers
    Attractive, fragrant flowers that are white, crimson or pink.
    [UPPd]
    Digestive System Disorders
    Contra la disentería, los cogollos preparados en cocimiento y administrados por vía oral. Other plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    Respiratory System Disorders
    En Guerrero, la infusión de las hojas, aplicada en gotas en las fosas nasales, en caso de catarro constipado. Leaves - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    Skin or Subcutaneous Cellular Tissue Disorders
    En Morelos, el principal uso medicinal que se hace popularmente de esta planta, es en manchas de la piel. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    Injuries
    En Yucatán se utiliza como cicatrizante, además de emplearlo como antiséptico. Se utilizan las hojas hervidas y reposadas durante dos días, para lavar la parte afectada (V. herida). Leaves - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    Infections & Infestations
    Se usa como antitusígeno. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana. Se usa contra el sarampión. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana. Las hojas se usan como purgante y vermífugo Leaves - Uso actual y potencial de la vegetación de Mina, N.L, Un estudio biométrico de las fibras vegetales, su desarrollo, estructura y productividad.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Baleares, Corse, Cyprus, East Aegean Is., France, Greece, Gulf States, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon-Syria, Libya, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Portugal, Sardegna, Sicilia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, West Himalaya, Yugoslavia

    Introduced Into:

    Alabama, Arkansas, Ascension, Azores, Bangladesh, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil South, Cameroon, Cape Provinces, Chad, Chagos Archipelago, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Cook Is., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gilbert Is., Guatemala, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hainan, Hawaii, Honduras, Japan, Jawa, Juan Fernández Is., Kenya, Kermadec Is., Korea, Lesser Sunda Is., Line Is., Madagascar, Madeira, Manchuria, Mexico Central, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, New South Wales, New Zealand North, Nicaragua, Panamá, Senegal, Society Is., Trinidad-Tobago, Western Sahara, Zimbabwe

    Common Names

    English
    Oleander

    Nerium oleander L. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Jan 1, 1983 Boissier, P.E. [s.n.], Spain K000857798
    Jan 1, 1983 Aucher-Eloy, P.M.R. [4925], Oman K000857799 isotype
    Jan 1, 1983 Kotschy, K.G.T. [558], Iran K000857633 isotype
    Jan 1, 1983 Jennings, R.H. [s.n.], Iran K000857634
    Jan 1, 1983 Kotschy, K.G.T. [558], Iran K000857635 isotype
    Jan 1, 1983 Haussknecht, H.C. [s.n.], Iran K000857636

    First published in Sp. Pl.: 209 (1753)

    Accepted in:

    • [1] (2016) Phytotaxa 250: 1-431
    • [2] Chang, C.S., Kim, H. & Chang, K.S. (2014) Provisional checklist of vascular plants for the Korea peninsula flora (KPF) . DESIGNPOST
    • [3] (2013) PhytoKeys 23: 1-18
    • [5] Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013) Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh , Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh
    • [7] Castroviejo, S. & al. (eds.) (2012) Flora Iberica 11: 1-672. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid
    • [8] Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012) Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies) , ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
    • [9] (2011) Bothalia 41: 41-82
    • [11] Kral, R., Diamond, A.R., Ginzbarg, S.L., Hansen, C.J., Haynes, R.R., Keener, B.R., Lelong, M.G., Spaulding, D.D. & Woods, M. (2011) Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Alabama . Botanical reseach institute of Texas
    • [12] (2010) Phytoneuron 2010-3: 1-7
    • [17] Thulin, M. (ed.) (2006) Flora of Somalia 3: 1-626. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • [18] (2005) Darwiniana 43: 90-191
    • [19] (2004) Journal de Botanique Société de Botanique de France 24: 67-78
    • [20] Fairhurst, W. (2004) Flowering Plants of Ascension island . Higham Press, Shirland, Alfreton, England
    • [21] Govaerts, R. (2003) World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS . The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • [23] (2001) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 85: i-xlii, 1-2666
    • [26] (1998) Boissiera 55: 1-322
    • [27] Welsh, S.L. (1998) Flora Societensis . E.P.S. Inc. Utah
    • [30] (1988) Flora of New Zealand 4: 1-1365. R.E.Owen, Government Printer, Wellington
    • [33] (1985) Atoll Research Bulletin 287: 1-38
    • [35] Berhaut, J. (1971) Flore illustrée du Sénégal 1: 1-626. Gouvernement du Sénégal, Ministère du développement rural direction des eaux et forêta, Dakar

    Literature

    • [4] Girmansyah, D. & al. (eds.) (2013) Flora of Bali an annotated checklist . Herbarium Bogorensis, Indonesia
    • [6] (2012) Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 113: 1-102
    • [10] (2011) Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 2: 1-429. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève
    • [13] (2009) Anales del Jardin Botanico de Madrid 66: 217-262
    • [14] (2009) Flora Mesoamericana 4(1): 1-855. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F.
    • [15] Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    • [16] Mabberley, D. J. (2008). Mabberley’s Plant-book: A Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classification and Uses. 3rd Ed. Cambridge University Press.
    • [22] National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (CSIR) (2003). The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials and industrial products. First Supplement Series (Raw Materials), Vol. 4: J-Q. CSIR, New Delhi.
    • [24] Bruneton, J. (1999). Toxic Plants Dangerous to Humans and Animals. Lavoisier Publishing, Paris.
    • [25] Sheppard, C.R.C. & Seaward, M.R.D. (eds.) (1999) Ecology of the Chagos archipelago . Westbury Academic & Scientific Publishing, Otley
    • [28] Burkill, H. M. (1997). The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa, Vol.1. Families A-D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [29] Huxley, A., Griffiths, M. & Levy, M. (eds) (1992). The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening, 4 vols. Macmillan, London.
    • [31] (1987) Atoll Research Bulletin 295: 1-33
    • [32] Pagen, F. J. J. (1987). Series of revisions of Apocynaceae. Part XX: Oleanders. Nerium L. and the Oleander Cultivars. Agricultural University, Wageningen Papers 87-2: 1-113.
    • [34] (1975) Atoll Research Bulletin 190: 73-84
    • [36] Verdcourt & Trump, Comm. Poison. Pl. E. Afr.: 131, t. 9 (1969).
    • [37] J.P.M. Brenan, Check-lists of the Forest Trees and Shrubs of the British Empire no. 5, part II, Tanganyika Territory p. 53 (1949).
    • [38] R. O. Williams, Useful and Ornamental Plants in Zanzibar and Pemba p. 379 (1949).
    • [39] Britton, N. (1918) Flora of Bermuda . Charles Scribner's Sons, New York

    Sources

    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa
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    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2017). Published on the internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp
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    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
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    Project MGU - Useful Plants Project (UPP) database
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