Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Deadly Beautiful (Plants in International Gardens & Art)

For being such a poisonous plant, there are many that do not know this fact about it. There have been many cases in which adults, children, and mammals have fallen ill from ingesting this beautiful flowering plant. And a few that have unfortunately been killed by it. The plant known as Oleander can be found throughout landscapes all over the world. Its scientific name is Nerium oleander and belongs to the Apocynaceae family. 

As a kid growing up, I was around this plant all the time. Not once was I told to avoid eating it and let me tell you I ate a lot of mysterious things as a child. So in class, I was surprised to learn that it is one of the most poisonous commonly grown garden plants. But what makes this specific plant poisonous? Compounds within Oleander, oleandrin, and oleandrigenin, known as cardiac glycosides, are known to have a narrow therapeutic index making the plant toxic when ingested. And yes, all parts of the plant are toxic. Luckily, there are a few animals, like rodents and birds, which are relatively insensitive to the toxins. Effects that occur with the ingestion of the plant include nausea and vomiting, excess salivation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, irregular heart rate, drowsiness, tremors or shaking, seizures, and even comas, and if ingested one should seek immediate medical treatment. 

Although, there is a relatively low number of reported deaths due to the ingestion of Oleander I find that everyone should be aware of the possible risks of the plant. Oleander is a beautiful plant with ancient history and should remain in the landscape for centuries to come. Would you be able to tell that this stunning plant is poisonous?


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