Weed of the Month-May 2019


(Nerium oleander)


(Photos: C. Schultz. flowers close up, young plant, from above, seed pods, Sorata St, Cape Jervis)

Many of you will be familiar with this garden shrub. Yes, another garden escapee. The native range of this plant includes northern Africa (e.g. Morocco), southern Europe (e.g. France and Greece), the Indian sub-continent and western China. Oleander is an ornamental shrub up to 4m tall. It’s a hardy plant with lush green leaves that are lance-shaped, leathery and stiffly pointed, 7.5–20cm long and 1.3–2cm wide. Flowers comes in a range of colours, pink, red, white or apricot, 4–5cm across with five well separated petals at the tips of the branches. After flowering, you will find long narrow pods containing numerous silky hairy seeds. If you have oleanders in your garden, please prune after flowering to prevent the spread of seed. Both the leaves and flowers are toxic and deaths have been recorded from accidental ingestion, although this is rare. Sadly a lady in the USA died in the mid 80s after making a herbal tea from oleander leaves thinking they were Eucalyptus leaves. Thankfully not too many Aussies would make this mistake!!