Scientific Name: Nerium oleander
- Order: Gentianales
- Family: Apocynaceae
- Genus: Nerium
- Species: N. oleander
Also known as rose laurel, oleander is an evergreen shrub with clusters of five-petaled flowers that can range from white to pink to red. The dark green leaves are thin and smooth, and the entire plant can grow to be anywhere from 6 to 20 feet tall! Oleander is tolerant of high temperatures, salt, wind, deer, and more, but one thing it cannot stand is cold temperatures. Frosty winters can damage oleander plants.
Oleander has a beautiful blossoms, but proceed with caution: the entire plant is poisonous, and ingesting even a little bit of the flowers or leaves can be fatal to you and any pets you might have. When handling the shrub, be careful of the sticky, irritating sap and do not burn oleander branches, because the smoke is toxic. The two substances that cause this toxicity are oleandrin and neriine, which can cause vomiting and heart problems. Interestingly enough, oleandrin was investigated by some scientists as a possible Covid-19 treatment. However, as it is highly poisonous, it is rejected by many experts and not approved by the FDA.