Oleander – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.
Dogbane (Apocynaceae) Family
Description: The poisonous Oleander shrub (or small tree) grows to about 9 meters (27 feet), with alternate, very straight, thick, leathery, dark green, long (2-8 inches), narrow (1 inch), lance-shaped leaves. Leaves typically grow in pairs or whorls of three. Mature plants have grayish bark. Its flowers may be white, yellow, red, pink, or intermediate colors and grow in clusters at the end of each branch. Flowers are typically have five petals each. Each flower may be 1-2 inches in diameter and are often sweet scented. Its fruit is a brown, long (2-9 inches), narrow, pod-like structure with many small, downy seeds.
All parts of the plant are very poisonous. Do not use the wood for cooking or spearing of food; it gives off poisonous fumes that can poison food. Symptoms of poisoning include gastrointestinal and cardiac effects. Individuals may experience nausea, vomiting, excessive salivation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramps, irregular heart rate, blurred vision, racing heart rate, pale and cold extremities, drowsiness, low blood pressure, weakness, tremors and shaking of muscles, disorientation, dizziness, headache, seizures, collapse, coma, and death.
Oleander sap can cause skin irritations and severe eye inflammation if the sap comes in contain with the eye.
If ingested, attempt to induce vomiting to reduce absorption of toxic compounds. Charcoal may be ingested to absorb compounds.
Habitat and Distribution: This native of the Mediterranean area is now grown as an ornamental in tropical and temperate regions. It grows natively around dry stream beds.