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Plantidote of the Day 2010-09-29

twig's picture

Common name: Oleander

Nerium oleander

Family: Apocynaceae

I'm sorry to say there's no interesting story behind this image. It's one of many blossoms on a backyard oleander bush that has been here longer than I have. I just thought it was beautiful, especially the color and the delicate ruffling of the petals. So in lieu of a story, here are some facts about oleanders.

The most important thing to know about these plants is that they're poisonous, every part of them -- the leaves, flowers, roots, everything. People have gotten sick just from roasting a marshmallow on an oleander branch. Even smoke from burning plants can irritate the lungs.

Other than the fact that they're lethal, oleanders are great plants. Not very demanding about soil quality or water, they thrive in hot, dry environments, which is why there are so many of them planted as hedges and along freeways here on the Best Coast.

Just a few years after being planted, an oleander plant can reach as high as 12 feet or more, with the thick foliage creating a lush, green privacy screen. Blossoms begin appearing in spring, and continue through October. The colors include red, pink, peach, and, of course, white, made famous in Janet Fitch's novel, White Oleander.

Readers, please send me ( images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chantrelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a “Name That Plant” mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.

PLANTIDOTE GROUP FORMING: Want to help gather images and take Plantidote of the Day to the next level? Of course you do! Join jerztomato, kerril and me by clicking the Join Groups menu item to sign up or email me at the address above!

Click on the image for the full-size version. Click here to see the entire series.

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kerril's picture
Submitted by kerril on

I have never seen such beautiful blossoms on an oleander. True, the bright amazing colors are great, but this takes it to another level. When we had our son I pulled all the Oleanders out of our back yard. Now I'm wishing they grew up here. Gorgeous.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

Whatever variety this is, it has "double" flowers, so they're much more frilly than standard oleanders.

You were smart to remove them. Kids and oleanders -- that could have a bad outcome.

If it makes you feel any better, the doubles don't fall off when they die. They just turn brown and stay there. If you're not into manually removing them -- from a bush that's at least 15' high! -- then you're stuck until some heavy wind/rain comes along and knocks them off. So that's the trade-off!

Submitted by lambert on

These are much more beautiful than my own pictures, but I hope you're not having to do this all by yourself, twig. I can send you some pictures of my own, if you like...

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

and any earlier submissions would be good, too.

Just so you know, I'm not doing it all by myself actually, it just looks that way while we're getting the group going. kerril will have some shortly, and jerztomato is away for a few days.

Also, someone who just signed up for an account sent in a gorgeous plant with a sweet story. I'm just waiting until he's approved to post it, so he can answer questions and comment.