Oleander (Fr. oléandre, from low Lat. lorandrum, a corruption of rhodendrum), the name of plants of the genus nerium. Though derived from the French, the common name in that language is laurier-rose or laurose (laurel rose). The genus nerium (the ancient name) belongs to the dogbane family (apocy-nacece), and consists of shrubs with opposite or whorled, thick and rigid leaves, and clusters of showy flowers in large terminal clusters. The corolla is salver-shaped, with a crown of five slender-toothed scales in its throat; the five stamens have their anthers terminated by a long, twisted, hairy appendage; the two ovaries become in fruit long cylindrical pods containing tufted seeds. There are not more than six or eight admitted species, most of them natives of India; the best known is N. oleander, a very old house plant in the northern states, but hardy in the south; it is a native of the Levant as well as of more eastern countries; its large odorous flowers have the appendage to the anthers scarcely protruding; the ordinary color is rose, but the named varieties have white, purple, and variegated, and partly or wholly double flowers.

The sweet oleander (N. odo-rum) has narrower leaves, the appendages to the anthers protruding, and fragant flowers; this is often confounded with the other by florists; it is more tender, and distinguished by the characters here given. As a house plant the oleander is kept indoors during the winter and set outdoors during the summer, where it blooms in July, its flowers remaining a long time. The plant is easily propagated, a very common method being to put the cuttings into botties of water, where they form roots in a few weeks and may then be transferred to pots of rich soil. This plant is exceedingly poisonous in all its parts; death has even followed the inadvertent use of the wood for meat skewers, and serious results from the sucking of the flowers by children; an infusion of the leaves kills insects, and the bark poisons rats. In Bermuda it has become naturalized and is in common use as a hedge plant. The farmers there say that the oleander poisons the grass growing near the hedges, and that animals are killed by eating it; the fact probably is that the animals eat the fallen oleander leaves with the grass.

Oleander (Nerium oleander).

Oleander (Nerium oleander).

Double Oleander (Nerium oleander, fl. pl.).

Double Oleander (Nerium oleander, fl. pl.).