Nerium oleander, most commonly known as nerium or oleander, is a shrub or small tree in the dogbane family Apocynaceae, cultivated worldwide in temperate and subtropical areas as an ornamental and landscaping plant. It is the only species currently classified in the genus Nerium. It is so widely cultivated that no precise region of origin has been identified, though it is usually associated with the Mediterranean Basin.
Nerium grows to 2–6 m (7–20 ft) tall. It is most commonly grown in its natural shrub form, but can be trained into a small tree with a single trunk. It is tolerant to both drought and inundation, but not to prolonged frost. White, pink or red five-lobed flowers grow in clusters year-round, peaking during the summer. The fruit is a long narrow pair of follicles, which splits open at maturity to release numerous downy seeds.
Several compounds in nerium exhibit toxicity, and it has historically been considered a poisonous plant. However, its bitterness renders it unpalatable to humans and most animals, so poisoning cases are rare and the general risk for human mortality is low. Ingestion of larger amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, excess salivation, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhoea and irregular heart rhythm. Prolonged contact with sap may cause skin irritation, eye inflammation and dermatitis.
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