Herb: Oleander

Latin name: Nerium oleander

Synonyms: Nerium indicum, Nerium odorum

Family: Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family)

Medicinal use of Oleander:

The leaves and the flowers are cardiotonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant and sternutatory. A decoction of the leaves has been applied externally in the treatment of scabies, and to reduce swellings. This is a very poisonous plant, containing a powerful cardiac toxin, and should only be used with extreme caution. The root is powerfully resolvent. Because of its poisonous nature it is only used externally. It is beaten into a paste with water and applied to chancres and ulcers on the penis. An oil prepared from the root bark is used in the treatment of leprosy and skin diseases of a scaly nature. The whole plant is said to have anticancer properties.

Description of the plant:


4 m
(13 feet)

June to


Habitat of the herb:

River banks and river gravels in Europe.

Other uses of Oleander:

The plant is used as a rat poison, a parasiticide and an insecticide. The pounded leaves and bark are used as an insecticide. A green dye is obtained from the flowers. The plant is commonly used for informal hedging in the Mediterranean, though it is too tender for this use in Britain. The leaves contain small amounts of latex that can be used to make rubber, though the amount is too small for commercial utilization. The plants have an extensive root system and are often used to stabilize soil in warmer areas.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Do not use seed from pods infected with the bacterial disease "oleander knot". Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter before planting them out in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, August/September in a frame. Good percentage. Cuttings of mature leading shoots.

Cultivation of Oleander:

River banks and river gravels in Europe.

Known hazards of Nerium oleander:

The whole plant is very poisonous. Skin contact with the plant can cause irritation whilst ingestion of only one leaf has led to death in children. Death has been known to follow the use of the wood of this plant as a meat skewer.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.