Oleander – Small Flowering Shrub OF DOOM!

Written by: Captain Skellett // May 6th, 2009 // Poisons

Ahh, Oleander. Nice to say, pretty to look at, but have a nibble and you’ll be dead ten ways from Sunday! They say that it’s the most deadly plant in the world, but I have to say I have a problem with that – there’s probably loads of other really terrible plants in the amazon, like a giant triffid kind of pitcherplant where it bends over and EATS YOU when you’re walking through the jungle.

triffid01

A Triffid!

Remember the weird knocking sound they made it the old Triffid movie? Now there’s a film that could use a remake, not that there was anything wrong with the old one, but you know… new technology could make a man-killling plant REALLY FREAKING COOL! Another plant deadlier than Oleander is the giant fungus in the X-Files episode entitled “Field Trip”, my favourite X-Files eppy ever. Although I suppose that’s classified as a fungus, not a plant.

Anyway, back to Oleander. There are a lot of wild allegations on the internet about how poisonous Oleander is, and I’m really not sure that all of them are true. Take the following, in order of increasing ludicrousness, and judge for yourself:

You can get sick from inhaling the fumes of burning Oleander wood
Children have died from drinking water in vases full of Oleander flowers
People have died using a twig of Oleander to stir their soup while camping
You can get poisoned from eating honey from bees which have eaten Oleander nectar

I mean, some of these MIGHT be reasonable, but some sound really ridiculous to me. Is it SERIOUSLY that poisonous? SERIOUSLY? Why does it need to be so poisonous? Did it evolve out of a Darwinian need to stop people from using its twigs as toothpicks? I think we need to quantify the claims as to the extreme poisonousness of Oleander with a series of experiments (any volunteers?)

With over 6 types of cardiac poisons, including a really nasty one NAMED after it (Oleandrin) which inhibits cellular Na/K ATPase pumps (always a downer), this is like a hardcore plant of death and destruction. You would think it would be all black and threatening, or at least slightly creepy like the triffids. But no, check it out.

white-oleander nerium_oleander_tree oleander

Beautiful and deadly. Nothing sexier than that!

Captain Skellett

I be Captain Skellett. Me blog started in April 2009 when I was working full time and didn’t get a chance to talk science. Now I have changed jobs and talk science all the time, but that doesn’t stop me blogging. More About Captain Skellett   Google

   

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