Oleander is an evergreen shrub cultivated for its showy flowers and handsome foliage. It belongs to the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. In warm regions it grows outdoors all year. In cooler regions it makes a fine house- and greenhouse plant. The common oleander, Nerium oleander, native to the Mediterranean region, grows 8 to 20 feet tall. Its thick, lance-shaped leaves, up to 10 inches long and 1 inch wide, are grouped in threes or fours along the stem. Except in double-flowered varieties the red, white, pink, or purple blossoms have five petals. The blossoms, which are l,5 to 3 inches wide, cluster at the branch tips. Narrow seed pods, 4 to 7 inches long, contain many fuzzy seeds. Similar to the common oleander, but sweeter smelling, is the fragrant oleander, Nerium odorum, native to southern Asia.
All parts of the plants are poisonous. So is the smoke from burning oleander wood and honey from oleander nectar. One leaf of oleander can kill the cow or horse that eats it.