Oleander, whose scientific name is Nerium oleander, is an evergreen that is small in size and is loved by gardeners because of its blossoms. Easy to care for and fast growing, oleanders are hardy and quite appealing. Nevertheless, the oleander plant can be found in many front yards and is considered invasive in some areas. Despite the appeal, oleander is a highly toxic plant.
These plants can be grown into shrubs or trees and have a clear, gummy sap. The leaves are a deep green and shaped like a lance. The flowers are funnel-shaped and bloom in clusters during the summer and fall. The flowers bloom in white, pink, red, and yellow. The flowers are always plenty, and sometimes they give off a pleasant scent. The flower petals form sort of a star shape and curl inward. These poisonous plants can grow from 6 to 12 feet tall and be of the same width. It is possible to train one while it is growing though, and as a small tree they can reach up to 20 feet tall.
There are several toxic poisons of the oleander, some known and some unknown. At the same time, all portions of the plant are toxic, whether the plant is alive and green or dying and wilting. Ingesting this plant in any fashion will lead to serious illness and possible death. This dangerous plant is not only poisonous to humans but also to dogs, cats, cattle, horses, and the like.
There has been folklore associated with this plant, saying that allegedly a group of people used pieces of the plant for a campfire. As the family roasted their hot dogs over the fire, the hot dogs became toxic. The individuals then succumb after consuming the food cooked over the oleander sticks. This is just folklore, and from 1985 to 2005, there were only 3 reported deaths by ingesting oleander. Aside from this, in 2002 alone 847 cases of human exposure to oleander were reported to centers in the United States.
Symptoms of Oleander Poisoning
If this poisonous plant is ingested, it is important to know the signs of poisoning. The symptoms can range from moderate to severe to fatal. These signs are: skin rash, visual halos, blurred vision, nausea, diarrhea, pain in the stomach, vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, slowed or irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, confusion, dizziness, fainting, and drowsiness. Mostly only in the severe poisonings will you see depression, loss of appetite, and halos in the vision.
What to do if Poisoning Occurs
Ingesting even just a small amount of an oleander can lead to symptoms of poisoning. If you believe someone you know has ingested a portion of this poisonous plant, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Do not try to treat the symptoms of poisoning at home, and do not induce vomiting unless told to do so by a trained medical professional. Depending on the exposure type and level of exposure, if oleander poisoning occurs, any number of symptoms could occur but they are treatable.
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