Nerium Oleander (Apocynaceæ)
The Mediterranean Oleander (Nerium Oleander) is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the Dogbane family of Apocynaceæ.
You may know this Mediterranean plant by some other name, such as Adelfa, Alheli Extranjero, Baladre, Espirradeira, Flor de São José, Laurel de Jardín, Laurel Rose, Flourier Rose, Aiwa, Rosa Francesca, Rosa Laurel, Rose-Bay or Olean.
They are attractive whatever their name or colour.
The Nerium Oleander plant has an early start this year, like everything else in Mallorca, due to the mildest winter in a long time, in the Balearic Archipelago area. Now, the shrubs or rather their fruit capsules, have split open and are releasing a largish number of downy seeds. More Oleander baby plants coming up soon.
Whilst the Oleander is a pretty shrub with a lovely flower, some of them with a sweet scent, one must not forget that this plant is rather toxic and, as such, quite a bit dangerous. All parts of the plant are potentially poisonous but really, it is the sap of a milky whitish colour that is the carrier of its toxic properties. Look, but don’t touch. And mind out if you have young children.
As always, there might be good news also, apart from the looks and the smells. There hardly appears to be any plant anywhere that does not have its use in the field of medicinal application, and the Oleander seems to be no exception. Pliny the Elder (again) in his Naturalis Historia (written circa 77 A. D.) claimed that despite its toxicity it was an effective snakebite cure: “…if taken in wine with rue…”. You might want to try that at your own risk but even better, do not get bitten by no snake.
Here’s more good news: there are no poisonous snakes in Mallorca. No native snakes, anyway.