Thursday, 1 May 2014

MELBOURNE STREET TREES 72 - OLEANDER

Nerium oleander is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the dogbane family Apocynaceae, toxic in all its parts. It is the only species currently classified in the genus Nerium. It is most commonly known as oleander, from its superficial resemblance to the unrelated olive Olea. It is so widely cultivated that no precise region of origin has been identified, though southwest Asia has been suggested. The ancient city of Volubilis in Morocco may have taken its name from the Berber name "oualilt" for the flower. Oleander is one of the most poisonous of commonly grown garden plants.

N. oleander is either native or naturalised to a broad area from Mauritania, Morocco, and Portugal eastward through the Mediterranean region and the Sahara (where it is only found sporadically), to the Arabian peninsula, southern Asia, and as far East as Yunnan in southern parts of China. It typically occurs around dry stream beds. Oleanders are planted in many subtropical and tropical areas of the world, including nearly all parts of Australia. On the East Coast of the US, it can be planted as far north as Virginia Beach, Virginia, while in California and Texas it is naturalised as a median strip planting.

Oleander grows to 2–6 m tall, with erect stems that splay outward as they mature; first-year stems have a glaucous bloom, while mature stems have a grayish bark. 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 to red, 2.5–5 cm diameter, with a deeply 5-lobed fringed corolla round the central corolla tube. They are often, but not always, sweet-scented. Both single and double varieties exist. The fruit is a long narrow capsule 5–23 cm (2.0–9.1 in) long, which splits open at maturity to release numerous downy seeds.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.


3 comments:

  1. Such a pretty pink leander bloom! (leandru).

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  2. We had oleanders in our yard in Florida, and my parents always cautioned me NOT to put the blooms in my mouth as they were poisonous. Still they are lovely bushes with beautiful blooms.

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