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It is native to a broad area from Morocco and Portugal eastward through the Mediterranean region and southern Asia to Yunnan in southern China (Flora Europaea; Flora of China; Huxley et al. 1992; www.inchem.org). It typically occurs around dry stream beds. It grows to 2-6 m tall, with spreading to erect branches. The leaves are in pairs or whorls of three, thick and leathery, dark green, narrow lanceolate, 5-21 cm long and 1-3.5 cm broad, and with an entire margin. The flowers grow in clusters at the end of each branch; they are white, pink or yellow, 2.5-5 cm diameter, with a deeply 5-lobed corolla with a fringe round the central corolla tube. They are often, but not always, sweetly scented. The fruit is a long narrow capsule 5-23 cm long, which splits open at maturity to release numerous downy seeds.

Oleander grows well in warm subtropical regions, where it is extensively used as an ornamental plant in landscapes, parks, and along roadsides. It is drought tolerant and will tolerate occasional light frost down to -10C (Huxley et al. 1992). It can also be grown in cooler climates in greenhouses, conservatories, or as indoor plants that summer outside. Oleander flowers are showy and fragrant and are grown for these reasons. Over 400 cultivars have been named, with several additional flower colours not found in wild plants having been selected, including red, purple and orange; white and a variety of pinks are the most common. Many cultivars also have double flowers.

Oleander is one of the most poisonous plants and contains numerous toxic compounds, many of which can be deadly to people, especially young children. The toxicity of Oleander is considered extremely high and it has been reported that in some cases only a small amount had lethal or near lethal effects (Goetz 1998). The most significant of these toxins are oleandrin and neriine, which are cardiac glycosides (Goetz 1998). "Cardiac glycocides are naturally occurring" plant or animal compounds "whose actions include both beneficial and toxic effects on the heart" (Desai 2000). They are present in all parts of the plant, but are most concentrated in the sap. It is thought that Oleander may contain many other unknown or un-researched compounds that may have dangerous effects (Inchem 2005). Oleander bark contains rosagenin which is known for its strychnine-like effects. The entire plant including the milky white sap is toxic and any part can cause an adverse reaction. Oleander is also known to hold its toxicity even after drying. Poisonings have been reported from the smoke of burning Oleander or use of the branches as skewers for food; these accounts may be legends (Snopes), but are not beyond the realm of possibility. It is thought that a handful or 10-20 leaves consumed by an adult can cause an adverse reaction, and a single leaf could be lethal to an infant or child. According to the TESS or (Toxic Exposure Surveillance System) in 2002 there were 847 known human poisonings in the United States related to Oleander (Watson 2003). In animals, around 0.5 mg per kilogramme of body weight is lethal to many animals, and various other doses will affect other animals (Inchem 2005). Beware; all animals can suffer a reaction or death from this plant.

Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleander

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photographer: PjMt | | country: Croatia | location: Island Cres | in gallery: Miscellaneous | categories: All, Still Life, Artsy Stuff | currently browsing: sort by: publish order (desc), category: All
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