ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Nerium Oleander: The Beautiful Poisonous Flower

Updated on January 12, 2019
Patrick Patrick profile image

Patrick Patrick just uploaded a new article on family and relationships.

Overview


There are many different types of flowers with different characteristics across the globe. Whether wide, elongated or tiny, the different types of flowers are appreciated for their beauty, scent or what they represent for given cultures or societies etc. Nerium oleander, commonly known as Oleander, is one of the many plants in existent that produces some of the most beautiful flowers with colors ranging from white and cream to red.

Oleander

Source

Other colors of the flowers

Pink

Lilac

Purple

Yellow

Nerium oleander


Nerium oleander is an evergreen shrub that remains gree in color throughout the year. As such, it is able to retain its foliage during warm climates compared to other deciduous plants. Classified under the family Apocynaceae, Nerium oleander can be found warm tropical and subtropical regions across the globe. For instance, they can be found in many parts of Southern United States, India, China and Australia among a few other countries. Although they grow well in environments that provide partial shade and well-drained soil, they are able to survive such harsh conditions as high salt content, strong winds, and poor soil quality. Because of their ability to survive harsh conditions, their beauty and the fact that they have a rapid growth rate, oleander plants are often used as ornamental plants in many parks, roadsides and parks.

Some of the characteristics of oleander include

Evergreen

Funnel-shaped flowers (with five petals)

Narrow, dark green leaves with a distinct midrib

The produce a clear gummy sap

Flowers are less than 2 inches in diameter

Flower

Source

Toxic


Even when completely dry, ingestion of any part of the plant has been shown to result in digitoxin-like effects. This toxicity is caused by a variety of cardiac glycosides such as folinerin, oleandrin, rosagenin, and neriin. Apart from affecting the cardiovascular system, the toxins also affect the nervous system following ingestion. Apart from human beings, digitoxin-like effects have also been identified in such animals as cows (and other mammals) causing death within two days. The toxins, however, have been shown to have little effects on rodents and birds.

Oleandrin and neriin


Oleandrin

Oleandrin is one of the most common cardiac glycosides of oleander. Like other cardiac glycosides, oleandrin inhibits Na⁺ /K⁺ -ATPase, an enzyme that is typically found in the plasma membrane. This inhibition causes an increase in the concentration of intercellular calcium ions, which in turn results in a positive inotropic effect. While this impact may benefit some of the patients suffering from myocardial dysfunction (or poor heart rate) the toxin has been associated with various cardiac effects. By affecting normal cardiac activity, the toxin can cause an individual to experience a fatal heart attack. In cases where an individual may have ingested large amounts of any part of the plant, a high concentration of the toxin may severy affect cardiac activity ultimately causing death.

Neriin (nerrine)

Like Oleandrin, nerrin is a potent cardiac glycoside present in all parts of the plant. By inhibiting the activity of the Na+ − K+ pump (Na+ − K+ ATPase), the toxin can cause such dysrhythmias as a second or third-degree heart block/cardiac arrest several minutes after ingestion. Because of the toxin’s potency, it has been used in some cultures during hunting. In such cases, the substance is applied to the tips of hunting arrows for better results. Apart from ingesting any part of the plant (leaves, flowers, stem), smoke released from burning the plant also has similar effects on both human beings and some animals. As a result, toxicity effects have been observed among people who have used parts of the plant to roast fish and other smaller animals (meat).

Foliage

Source

Clinical presentation of toxicity

Diarrhea

Sweating

General weakness

Severe gastroenteritis

Nausea and vomiting

Uses and application


While oleander can have negative health consequences on human beings and other mammals, it has a number of economic and medicinal importance. For instance, ground leaves and bark parts of the plant are used as insecticides and rat poison. In many regions where the plant is found, this application prevents rats and other insects from damaging crops and other foods in storage. On the other hand, the flowering part of the plant is used to produce a dye while the leaves are used to make rubber. However, given that the amount of latex obtained from the leaves is very little, the leaves are not used to produce large amounts of rubber.

The leaves and flowers of oleander have the following biological activities

Antioxidant activities

Diaphoretic

Cardiotonic

Anti-inflammatory

Antimicrobial

Anticancer activity

Larvicidal activity

Additional reading


Saabiya Farooqui and Tulika Tyagi. (2017). Nerium Oleander: Its Application in Basic and Applied Science: A Review.

Garima Zibbu and Amla Batra. (2010). A Review on Chemistry and Pharmacological activity of Nerium oleander L. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research.


Links

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3841991/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/oleandrin

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/cardenolides

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/nerium

© 2019 Patrick

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Patrick Patrick profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick 

      2 years ago from Nairobi

      Hi Peggy, Thank you for sharing. I've never really come across the plant, so it's all from reading on my part. I read that toxicity is dependent on the amount ingested and type of animal. I will expand on clinical application of the plant soon.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      These types of oleanders grow beautifully in our area and are seen frequently in home gardens as well as along highways where they are planted. Interesting information to know about the anti-cancer benefits as well as the other uses. As to the toxicity, we never had any problems with our dogs chewing on the oleanders and getting sick. Supposedly the bitter taste would dissuade them from doing so, at least that is what I read from one source.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)