Oleander most commonly known as Nerium, is a shrub or small tree cultivated worldwide in temperate and subtropical areas as an ornamental and landscaping plant. It is the only species currently classified in the genus Nerium, belonging to subfamily Apocynoideae of the dogbane family Apocynoideae. It is so widely cultivated that no precise region of origin has been identified, though it is usually associated with the Mediterranean Basin .
Oleander 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.
Oleander contains several toxic compounds, and it has historically been considered as 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 diarrhea and irregular heart rhythm. Prolonged contact with sap may cause skin irritation, eye inflammation and dermatitis.
Up to 3 m tall. The skin is gray. The leaves are broad, thick, dark green and elongated, sharp in the middle on both sides. Flowers in axillary clusters, 5-petalled. The plant is white spotted. Every part of the arali is poisonous and foul-smelling. Two compounds, oleandrin (Formula: C32H48O9: Molecular Weight: 576.72 g / mol) and Oleandrigenin (C25H36O6: Molecular Weight: 432.557 g / mol), poison the plant and its flowers. Many accidents have been reported from eating the fruit or leaves of this plant. Do not give leaves or flowers to cows or sheep.
The flowers grow in clusters at the end of each branch; they are white, pink to red, 2.5–5 cm (0.98–1.97 in) diameter, with a deeply 5-lobed fringed corolla round the central corolla tube. They are often, but not always, sweet-scented.
The fruit is a long narrow pair of follicles 5–23 cm (2.0–9.1 in) long, which splits open at maturity to release numerous downy seeds.
From the research done by Rangaswamy and TS Seshadri; Glycosides extracted from the roots and leaves have been found to act on the heart muscle, enhancing its ability to contract and expand. In addition, root skin has been found to increase the ability of the lungs to contract and expand. Medications should be used in very small doses. Or lead to adverse effects. Although it is poisonous and used medicinally, the authentic texts of Ayurveda do not prescribe it for ingestion, but Sushruta concludes that it is good for application in addition to ulcers and leprosy. Controlled doses increase the contractility of the heart muscle, and at higher doses slow it down. Oleander is used in the treatment of cancer with the essential oil described in the chakra.
Poisoning and reactions to oleander plants are evident quickly, requiring immediate medical care in suspected or known poisonings of both humans and animals.
Induced vomiting and gastric lavage are protective measures to reduce absorption of the toxic compounds. Activated charcoal may also be administered to help absorb any remaining toxins. Further medical attention may be required depending on the severity of the poisoning and symptoms. Temporary cardiac pacing will be required in many cases (usually for a few days) until the toxin is excreted.