Nerium oleander is a shrub known as Oleander and is widely found in the Mediterranean area as well as in South Central China. It is an evergreen shrub with lots of brightly coloured flowers and it grows to a height of about 6 meters. The leaves of this tree are found in groups of three and have a distinct shape (Royal Botanical Gardens). This lanceolate shape indicates that they are long but widest in the middle. The flowers produced by this shrub are tubular with five lobes (Royal Botanical Gardens). These flowers come in a variety of different colours including red, pink, yellow or purple. This plant also produces fruit that is composed of a pair of follicles which split along the side to release seeds (Royal Botanical Gardens).
This plant can be commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical climates and grows well in a wide range of soils. It is able to withstand drought and salt spray and can prosper in full sun or partial shade. This plant can also survive light frosts but shows signs of frost damage (Royal Botanical Gardens). These characteristics show that this plant is quite hardy and resilient due to its ability to survive in a wide range of climates.
This plant is widely cultivated as an ornamental shrub. It is important to note that this plant is highly toxic to humans, pets, livestock and birds if ingested. The plant contains cardiac glycosides that have been shown to cause nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure and even death (International Oleander Society). The sap from this tree has also been used as rat poison. However, people have found ways of circumventing these side effects and parts of the oleander plant have been used to create medicine. The leaves of this plant have been used to treat heart diseases, act as an antibacterial and as an antidote to snake bites (International Oleander Society). They also show insecticidal properties against sugarcane mites and citrus leafminers (International Oleander Society). The roots have been used to treat cancers, leprosy and ulcers (International Oleander Society). Although this plant has some negative side effects, its use in traditional medicine far outweigh those effects.
International Oleander Society. Toxicity. Accessed from: http://www.oleander.org/toxic.html
Royal Botanical Gardens. Nerium oleander. Accessed from: http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/nerium-oleander-oleander