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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.

Nerium oleander (oleander)

[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.

Uses Ornamental

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 oleander is 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.

[UNAL]

Bernal, R., G. Galeano, A. Rodríguez, H. Sarmiento y M. Gutiérrez. 2017. Nombres Comunes de las Plantas de Colombia. http://www.biovirtual.unal.edu.co/nombrescomunes/

Vernacular
adelfa, adelfo, alejandría, amaranto, andelfo, azucena de La Habana, azuceno, azuceno de La Habana, berbería, clavel habano, delfo, ébano, flor de La Habana, habana, habano, laurel, laurel de Judea, laurel rosa, rosa de La Habana, yolanda, yucatán

[FTEA]

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

Morphology General Habit
A shrub or small tree.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite or ternate, thick and poisonous.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Attractive, fragrant flowers that are white, crimson or pink.

[FSOM]

M. Thulin et al. Flora of Somalia, Vol. 1-4 [updated 2008] https://plants.jstor.org/collection/FLOS

Vernacular
Oleander rose-bay (English).
Morphology Leaves
Leaves linear-lanceolate, 6–15 x 1.2–3 cm, acute at the apex
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx-lobes 4–8 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla pink or sometimes white or red; tube 12–20 mm long; lobes 20–25 mm long, obtuse
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Follicles 8–16 x 0.5–1 cm, erect, reddish-brown.
Distribution
Cultivated, for example in N1 and S2.

[CPLC]

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Distribution
Cultivada en Colombia; Alt. 0 - 1760 m.; Andes, Islas Caribeñas, Llanura del Caribe, Valle del Cauca, Valle del Magdalena.
Morphology General Habit
Subarbusto, arbusto

[FSOM]
Use
Cultivated as an ornamental The plant contains very toxic cardiac glycosides.

Native to:

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, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, Caroline Is., Chad, Chagos Archipelago, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Comoros, 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, Krym, Lesser Sunda Is., Line Is., Madagascar, Madeira, Manchuria, Marianas, Marshall Is., Mexico Central, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Nauru, New South Wales, New Zealand North, Nicaragua, Panamá, Senegal, Society Is., Trinidad-Tobago, Tuamotu, Tubuai Is., Western Sahara, Zimbabwe

English
Oleander

Nerium oleander L. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Jan 1, 1983 Boissier, P.E. [s.n.], Spain K000857798
Jan 1, 1983 Kotschy, K.G.T. [558], Iran K000857635 isotype
Jan 1, 1983 Jennings, R.H. [s.n.], Iran K000857634
Jan 1, 1983 Aucher-Eloy, P.M.R. [4925], Oman K000857799 isotype
Jan 1, 1983 Haussknecht, H.C. [s.n.], Iran K000857636
Jan 1, 1983 Kotschy, K.G.T. [558], Iran K000857633 isotype
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 1624], Nepal Nerium odorum K001113613
s.coll. [Cat. no. 1624] Nerium odorum K001113616
s.coll. [Cat. no. 1624] Nerium odorum K001113620
s.coll. [Cat. no. 1624] Nerium odorum K001113619
s.coll. [Cat. no. 1624] Nerium odorum K001113618
s.coll. [Cat. no. 1624] Nerium odorum K001113617
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 1624], Nepal Nerium odorum K001113614
Webb, W.S. [Cat. no. 1624], India Nerium odorum K001113615
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 1624], Nepal Nerium odorum K001113621

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

Accepted by

  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Berhaut, J. (1971). Flore illustrée du Sénégal 1: 1-626. Gouvernement du Sénégal, Ministère du développement rural direction des eaux et forêta, Dakar.
  • Brundu, G. & Camarda, I. (2013). The Flora of Chad: a checklist and brief analysis PhytoKeys 23: 1-18.
  • Castroviejo, S. (ed.) in Castroviejo, S. & al. (eds.) (2012). Flora Iberica 11: 1-672. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid.
  • Chang, C.S., Kim, H. & Chang, K.S. (2014). Provisional checklist of vascular plants for the Korea peninsula flora (KPF): 1-660. DESIGNPOST.
  • Danton, P. & Perrier, C. (2004). Liste de la Flore vasculaire de l'île Robinson Crusoe archipel Juan Fernández, Chili Journal de Botanique Société de Botanique de France 24: 67-78.
  • Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2011). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 2: 1-429. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  • Evenhuis, N.L. & Eldredge, L.G. (eds.) (2012). Records of the Hawaii biological survey for 2011. Part II: plants Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 113: 1-102.
  • Fairhurst, W. (2004). Flowering Plants of Ascension island: 1-300. Higham Press, Shirland, Alfreton, England.
  • Figueiredo, E., Paiva, J., Stévart, T., Oliveira, F. & Smith, G.F. (2011). Annotated catalogue of the flowering plants of São Tomé and Príncipe Bothalia 41: 41-82.
  • Florence, J. & Hallé, N. (1986). Suite du catalogue des plantes a fleurs et Fougères des iles Australes Rapa: 151-158. Direction des centres d'expérimentations nucléaires. Service mixte de contrôle biologique.
  • 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.
  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 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: 1-112. Botanical reseach institute of Texas.
  • Lebrun, J.-P. (1998). Catalogue des plantes de la Mauritanie et du Sahara Occidental Boissiera 55: 1-322.
  • Morales, J.F. (2005). Estudios en las Apocynaceae Neotropicales XIX: La familia Apocynaceae s.str. (Apocynoideae, Rauvolfioideae) de Costa Rica Darwiniana 43: 90-191.
  • Morales, J.F. (2009). Estudios en las Apocynaceae neotropicales XXXIX: revisión de las Apocynoideae y Rauvolfioideae de Honduras Anales del Jardin Botanico de Madrid 66: 217-262.
  • Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013). Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh, Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
  • Sachet, M.-H. (1983). Takapoto atoll, Tuamotu archipelago: terrestrial vegetation and flora Atoll Research Bulletin 277: 1-41.
  • Stevens, W.D., Ulloa U., C., Pool, A. & Montiel, O.M. (2001). Flora de Nicaragua Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 85: i-xlii, 1-2666.
  • Thulin, M. (ed.) (2006). Flora of Somalia 3: 1-626. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Verloove, F. (2017). New xenophytes from the Canary islands (Gran Canaria and Tenerife; Spain) Acta Botanica Croatica 76: 120-131.
  • Webb, C.J., Sykes, W.R & Garnock-Jones, P.J. (1988). Flora of New Zealand 4: 1-1365. R.E.Owen, Government Printer, Wellington.
  • Welsh, S.L. (1998). Flora Societensis: 1-420. E.P.S. Inc. Utah.
  • Wester, L. (1985). Checklist of the vascular plants of the Northern Line Islands Atoll Research Bulletin 287: 1-38.
  • Williams, J.K. (2010). Additions to the Alien vascular flora of Mexico, with comments on the shared species of Texas, Mexico and Belize Phytoneuron 2010-3: 1-7.
  • von Raab-Straube, E. & Raus, T. (eds.) (2021). Euro+Med-Checklist Notulae, 13 Willdenowia 51: 141-168.

Literature

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia

  • ColPlantA (2021). "ColPlantA. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.colplanta.org/"

Kew Species Profiles

  • Bruneton, J. (1999). Toxic Plants Dangerous to Humans and Animals. Lavoisier Publishing, Paris.
  • Burkill, H. M. (1997). The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa, Vol.1. Families A-D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Huxley, A., Griffiths, M. & Levy, M. (eds) (1992). The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening, 4 vols. Macmillan, London.
  • Mabberley, D. J. (2008). Mabberley’s Plant-book: A Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classification and Uses. 3rd Ed. Cambridge University Press.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Barthelat, F. (2019). La flore illustrée de Mayotte: 1-687. Biotope éditions.
  • Berhaut, J. (1971). Flore illustrée du Sénégal 1: 1-626. Gouvernement du Sénégal, Ministère du développement rural direction des eaux et forêta, Dakar.
  • Britton, N. (1918). Flora of Bermuda: 1-585. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
  • Brundu, G. & Camarda, I. (2013). The Flora of Chad: a checklist and brief analysis PhytoKeys 23: 1-18.
  • Chang, C.S., Kim, H. & Chang, K.S. (2014). Provisional checklist of vascular plants for the Korea peninsula flora (KPF): 1-660. DESIGNPOST.
  • Danton, P. & Perrier, C. (2004). Liste de la Flore vasculaire de l'île Robinson Crusoe archipel Juan Fernández, Chili Journal de Botanique Société de Botanique de France 24: 67-78.
  • Davidse, G. & al. (eds.) (2009). Flora Mesoamericana 4(1): 1-855. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F.
  • Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2011). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 2: 1-429. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  • Evenhuis, N.L. & Eldredge, L.G. (eds.) (2012). Records of the Hawaii biological survey for 2011. Part II: plants Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 113: 1-102.
  • Fairhurst, W. (2004). Flowering Plants of Ascension island: 1-300. Higham Press, Shirland, Alfreton, England.
  • Figueiredo, E., Paiva, J., Stévart, T., Oliveira, F. & Smith, G.F. (2011). Annotated catalogue of the flowering plants of São Tomé and Príncipe Bothalia 41: 41-82.
  • Florence, J. & Hallé, N. (1986). Suite du catalogue des plantes a fleurs et Fougères des iles Australes Rapa: 151-158. Direction des centres d'expérimentations nucléaires. Service mixte de contrôle biologique.
  • Fosberg, F.R. & Sachet, M.-H. (1987). Flora of the Gilbert Island, Kiribati, Checklist Atoll Research Bulletin 295: 1-33.
  • Fosberg, F.R. (1975). Vascular plants of Aitutaki Atoll Research Bulletin 190: 73-84.
  • Fosberg, F.R., Sachet, M.-H., Oliver, R. (1979). A geographical checklist of the Micronesian Dicotyledonae Micronesica; Journal of the College of Guam 15: 41-295.
  • 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.
  • Girmansyah, D. & al. (eds.) (2013). Flora of Bali an annotated checklist: 1-158. Herbarium Bogorensis, Indonesia.
  • 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: 1-112. Botanical reseach institute of Texas.
  • Lebrun, J.-P. (1998). Catalogue des plantes de la Mauritanie et du Sahara Occidental Boissiera 55: 1-322.
  • Morales, J.F. (2009). Estudios en las Apocynaceae neotropicales XXXIX: revisión de las Apocynoideae y Rauvolfioideae de Honduras Anales del Jardin Botanico de Madrid 66: 217-262.
  • Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013). Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh, Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
  • Sachet, M.-H. (1983). Takapoto atoll, Tuamotu archipelago: terrestrial vegetation and flora Atoll Research Bulletin 277: 1-41.
  • Sheppard, C.R.C. & Seaward, M.R.D. (eds.) (1999). Ecology of the Chagos archipelago: 1-350. Westbury Academic & Scientific Publishing, Otley.
  • Verloove, F. (2017). New xenophytes from the Canary islands (Gran Canaria and Tenerife; Spain) Acta Botanica Croatica 76: 120-131.
  • Webb, C.J., Sykes, W.R & Garnock-Jones, P.J. (1988). Flora of New Zealand 4: 1-1365. R.E.Owen, Government Printer, Wellington.
  • Welsh, S.L. (1998). Flora Societensis: 1-420. E.P.S. Inc. Utah.
  • Wester, L. (1985). Checklist of the vascular plants of the Northern Line Islands Atoll Research Bulletin 287: 1-38.
  • Williams, J.K. (2010). Additions to the Alien vascular flora of Mexico, with comments on the shared species of Texas, Mexico and Belize Phytoneuron 2010-3: 1-7.
  • von Raab-Straube, E. & Raus, T. (eds.) (2021). Euro+Med-Checklist Notulae, 13 Willdenowia 51: 141-168.

Flora of Somalia

  • Flora Somalia, Vol 3, (2006) Author: by M. Thulin [updated by M. Thulin 2008]

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • 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).
  • R. O. Williams, Useful and Ornamental Plants in Zanzibar and Pemba p. 379 (1949).
  • Verdcourt & Trump, Comm. Poison. Pl. E. Afr.: 131, t. 9 (1969).

Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Colombian resources for Plants made Accessible
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Flora of Somalia
Flora of Somalia
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Universidad Nacional de Colombia
ColPlantA database
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0