Posted on July 7, 2012

Oleander Flower

Oleander Nerium Plant & Flower

According to legend, the Pirate Jean Lafitte after capturing a schooner killed all its passengers, save one, a sailor, named Ole Anderson, who was found clutching a flowering plant. Lafitte astonished, realized how prized such a plant must be, made the sailor his gardener and exclaimed “Olea Ander” and ever thereafter, the pirate referred to this flowering plant as Oleander.

Oleanders are a flowering shrub that thrives with little care. Oleanders grow best in full sun and are heat and drought tolerant. Oleanders also thrive in different soil types as long as it has good drainage. The Oleander plant grows especially well in seaside coastal gardens, tolerating salt spray and wind. Oleanders flower from early summer until mid-autumn. Colors range from white through yellow, peach, salmon and pink to deep burgundy red.

Thought to be the Biblical Rose of Jericho, Nerium oleander has been mentioned by ancient texts and folklore. Used traditionally by herbalists as a folk remedy for a wide variety of maladies and conditions, including dermatitis, abscesses, eczema, psoriasis, sores, warts, corns, ringworm, scabies, herpes, skin cancer, sunburn, acne, cold sores, age spots, asthma, epilepsy, malaria, emetics, heart tonics, and tumors. Macerated leaves of oleander have been applied topically for treatment dermatitis, loss of hair, superficial tumors and syphilis. Promising uses include congestive heart failure and cancer. Records of the medicinal use of oleander date back to ancient time. Mesopotamians in the 15th century BC believed in the healing properties of oleander and the ancient Babylonians and later the Roman soldiers used a mixture of oleander and licorice to treat hangovers. Arab physicians used oleander as a cancer treatment in the 8th century AD.

Oleander is not recommended as a home remedy due to its toxic nature. Oleander is considered poisonous including all parts of the plant and flower. People have died when ingesting Oleander as a tea or using it in a colonic. Drying of plant materials does not eliminate the toxins. There is a wide range of toxins and secondary compounds within oleander, and care should be taken around this plant due to its toxic nature. The dried or fresh branches should not be used for spearing food, for preparing a cooking fire, or as a food skewer. It is also very hazardous for grazing animals as the plant is sweet to the taste. However, products derived from Oleander are safe to use for their intended purpose.

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