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The flowers grow in clusters at the end of each branch; they are white, pink to red, [Note 2] 2. They are often, but not always, sweet-scented. Yellow is unusual Nerium oleander is either native or naturalized 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. Nerium oleander is planted in many subtropical and tropical areas of the world. They are so prolific that Galveston is known as the 'Oleander City'; an annual oleander festival is hosted every spring. It is grown without protection in southern England and can reach great sizes in London and to a lesser extent in Paris  due to the urban heat island effect. Plants may suffer damage or die back in such marginal climates during severe winter cold, but will rebound from the roots. Ecology[ edit ] Some invertebrates are known to be unaffected by oleander toxins, and feed on the plants. Caterpillars of the polka-dot wasp moth Syntomeida epilais feed specifically on oleanders and survive by eating only the pulp surrounding the leaf-veins, avoiding the fibers. Larvae of the common crow butterfly Euploea core and oleander hawk-moth Daphnis nerii also feed on oleanders, and they retain or modify toxins, making them unpalatable to potential predators such as birds, but not to other invertebrates such as spiders and wasps. The showy corolla acts as a potent advertisement to attract pollinators from a distance, but the flowers are nectarless and offer no reward to their visitors. They therefore receive very few visits, as typical of many rewardless flower species. Ornamental Gardening[ edit ] Oleander is a vigorous grower in warm subtropical regions, where it is extensively used as an ornamental plant in parks, along roadsides and in private gardens. It is most commonly grown in its natural shrub form, but can be trained into a small tree with a single trunk. The toxicity of oleander renders it deer-resistant and its large size makes for a good windbreak — as such it is frequently planted as a hedge along property lines and in agricultural settings. The plant is tolerant of poor soils, intense heat, salt spray, and sustained drought — although it will flower and grow more vigorously with regular water. Although it does not require pruning to thrive and bloom, oleander can become unruly with age and older branches tend to become gangly, with new growth emerging from the base. For this reason gardeners are advised to prune mature shrubs in the autumn to shape and induce lush new growth and flowering for the following spring. Free-flowering varieties like 'Petite Salmon' or 'Mont Blanc' require no period of rest and can flower continuously throughout the year if the weather remains warm. In cold winter climates, oleander is a popular summer potted plant readily available at most nurseries. They require frequent heavy watering and fertilizing as compared to being planted in the ground, but oleander is nonetheless an ideal flowering shrub for patios and other spaces with hot sunshine. During the winter they should be moved indoors, ideally into an unheated greenhouse or basement where they can be allowed to go dormant. Placing them in a space with central heating and poor air flow can make them susceptible to a wide variety of pests - aphids , mealybugs , Oleander scale , Whitefly and Spider mites. Over cultivars have been named, with several additional flower colors not found in wild plants having been selected, including yellow, peach and salmon. Many cultivars, like "Hawaii" or "Turner's Carnival", are multi-colored, with brilliant striped corollas. Double flowered cultivars like "Mrs Isadore Dyer" deep pink , "Mathilde Ferrier" yellow or "Mont Blanc" white are enjoyed for their large, rose-like blooms and strong fragrance. There is also a variegated form, 'Variegata', featuring leaves striped in yellow and white. Among these compounds are oleandrin and oleandrigenin , known as cardiac glycosides , which are known to have a narrow therapeutic index and can be toxic when ingested. Toxicity studies of animals administered oleander extract concluded that rodents and birds were observed to be relatively insensitive to oleander cardiac glycosides. Because oleander is extremely bitter, officials speculated that the toddlers had developed a condition caused from malnutrition, Pica , which causes people to eat otherwise inedible material. The gastrointestinal effects can consist of nausea and vomiting, excess salivation, abdominal pain, diarrhea that may contain blood, and especially in horses , colic. Extremities may become pale and cold due to poor or irregular circulation. The effect on the central nervous system may show itself in symptoms such as drowsiness, tremors or shaking of the muscles, seizures , collapse, and even coma that can lead to death. Activated charcoal may also be administered to help adsorb any remaining toxins. Temporary cardiac pacing will be required in many cases usually for a few days until the toxin is excreted. In July , several horses were poisoned in this manner from the leaves of the plant. There is a wide range of toxins and secondary compounds within oleander, and care should be taken around this plant due to its toxic nature. Different names for oleander are used around the world in different locations, so, when encountering a plant with this appearance, regardless of the name used for it, one should exercise great care and caution to avoid ingestion of any part of the plant, including its sap and dried leaves or twigs. The dried or fresh branches should not be used for spearing food, for preparing a cooking fire, or as a food skewer. Many of the oleander relatives, such as the desert rose Adenium obesum found in East Africa, have similar leaves and flowers and are equally toxic. Often told as a true and local event, typically an entire family, or in other tellings a group of scouts, succumbs after consuming hot dogs or other food roasted over a campfire using oleander sticks. Some scholars believe it to be the rhodon rose , also called the 'Rose of Jericho', mentioned in apocryphal writings Ecclesiasticus XXIV, 13  dating back to between and BC. The Egyptians apparently called it scinphe, the North Africans rhodedaphane, and the Lucanians a southern Italic people icmane. A article in the medical journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine posited that oleander was the substance used to induce hallucinations in the Pythia , the female priestess of Apollo , also known as the Oracle of Delphi in Ancient Greece. In his book Enquiries into Plants of circa BC, Theophrastus described among plants that affect the mind a shrub he called onotheras, which modern editors render oleander; "the root of onotheras [oleander] administered in wine", he alleges, "makes the temper gentler and more cheerful". The plant has a leaf like that of the almond , but smaller, and the flower is red like a rose. The plant itself which loves hilly country forms a large bush; the root is red and large, and, if this is dried, it gives off a fragrance like wine. In another mention, of "wild bay" Daphne agria , Theophrastus appears to intend the same shrub. Leaf scorch[ edit ] A bacterial disease known as oleander leaf scorch has become an extremely serious threat to the shrub since it was first noticed in Palm Springs , California, in This inhibits the circulation of water in the tissue of the plant, causing individual branches to die until the entire plant is consumed. Symptoms of leaf scorch infection may be slow to manifest themselves, but it becomes evident when parts of otherwise healthy oleanders begin to yellow and wither, as if scorched by heat or fire. Die-back may cease during winter dormancy, but the disease flares up in summer heat when the plant is actively growing, allowing the bacteria to spread through the xylem of the plant. As such it can be difficult to identify at first because gardeners may mistake the symptoms for those of drought stress or nutrient deficiency. In art and culture[ edit ] Oleanders by Vincent van Gogh Janet Fitch 's novel White Oleander is centered around a young Southern California girl's experiences growing up in foster care after her mother is imprisoned for poisoning an ex-boyfriend with the plant. The rock band Oleander took its name from the plant because it lines miles of highways in the band's native Sacramento. Briggs, a character in the movie Enchanted April , tells a family myth about his father sticking his walking staff into the soil to mark the spot where he wanted an Oleander to be planted, which then sprouted leaves and turned into a live oleander. Gustav Klimt , who painted "Two Girls with an Oleander" between Van Gogh found the flowers "joyous" and "life-affirming" because of their inexhaustible blooms and vigour. This morning Thea saw to her delight that the two oleander trees, one white and one red, had been brought up from their winter quarters in the cellar. There is hardly a German family in the most arid parts of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, but has its oleander trees. However loutish the American-born sons of the family may be, there was never one who refused to give his muscle to the back-breaking task of getting those tubbed trees down into the cellar in the fall and up into the sunlight in the spring. They may strive to avert the day, but they grapple with the tub at last.
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