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