Oleander (Nerium oleander), is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the dogbane family Apocynaceae. It is the only species currently classified in the genus Nerium.
Other names include Adefla, Alheli Extranjero, Baladre, Espirradeira, Flor de São Jose, Laurel de jardín, Laurel rosa, Laurier rose, Flourier rose, Olean, Aiwa, Rosa Francesca, Rosa Laurel, and Rose-bay.
It is native to a broad area from Morocco and Portugal eastward through the Mediterranean region and southern Asia to Yunnan in southern parts of China. It typically occurs around dry stream beds. It grows to 2-6 m tall, with spreading to erect branches. The leaves are in pairs or whorls of three, thick and leathery, dark green, narrow lanceolate, 5-21 cm long and 1-3.5 cm broad, and with an entire margin. The flowers grow in clusters at the end of each branch; they are white, pink or yellow, 2.5-5 cm diameter, with a deeply 5-lobed corolla with a fringe round the central corolla tube. They are often, but not always, sweetly scented. The fruit is a long narrow capsule 5-23 cm long, which splits open at maturity to release numerous downy seeds.
Cultivation and uses
Oleander grows well in warm subtropical regions, where it is extensively used as an ornamental plant in landscapes, parks, and along roadsides. It is drought tolerant and will tolerate occasional light frost down to -10°C. It can also be grown in cooler climates in greenhouses, conservatories, or as indoor plants that summer outside. Oleander flowers are showy and fragrant and are grown for these reasons. Over 400 cultivars have been named, with several additional flower colours not found in wild plants having been selected, including red, purple and orange; white and a variety of pinks are the most common. Many cultivars also have double flowers. Young plants grow best in spaces where they do not have to compete with grass for nutrients.
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