(Last Updated on : 19/10/2010)
The `Oleander Tree` is very much common in many parts of India and also in a large number of tropical and sub-tropical regions. The scientific name of this beautiful tree is `Nerium Odorum`. The word `Nerium` is a classical Greek name. This tree is a member of the `Apocynaceae` family. It is called in three different names in Hindi language
such as `Kaner`, `Kunel` and `Karubi`. The Bengali
people named it as `Karobi` and in Tamil; the name of this tree is `Arali`.
The tree grows wild in rocky streambeds in the Lower Himalayas and decorates the roads and rivers. If the climate prohibits it to grow in the outdoors, it has the ability to become very useful as a greenhouse plant. It is a strong shrub and never exceeds the height of 25 cm. It bears some straight branches and an evergreen flora. The several varieties of the `Oleander Tree` have all become very popular as cultivated shrubs. The reason behind the popularity is that they contain some fragrant and flashy blooms. However, the sap has some poisonous quality.
The tree flowers all through the year, but the Rainy season is their best blooming time. The flowers of the tree are of deep rose, pink and white in colour. They are common in both single and double forms. They normally grow in big sprays and in the double form, the flowers gather so closely that they become almost impossible to differentiate as individuals. The flowers of the `Oleander Tree` rise on a short stalk. They lie in a small calyx that has five cleaves. They are like trays in shape and about 5 cm. across. The single variety of the flowers has five broad petals that open from a short tube to the inside. The bands of stamens hold on the tube and divide into several ragged segments. The fruit is a narrow and about 20cm across pod. It contains some silky seeds that are of brown in colour.
The leaves of the `Oleander Tree` are very typical and although it has a little similarity to the leaves of the Yellow Oleander (Thevetia Nerifolia), there is a minimum chance of mistaking them with any others once they have been studied. They are uncommonly slender and tapering. They usually grow in whorls of three on very short stalks. They are a little over 2.5cm in width and their length is about 20 or 21 cm. They are of dark, dusty green above and paler below in colour. The pattern of the veins on the underside hardly shows on the upper surface.
All the parts of the tree are dangerously poisonous and they have commonness with those plants that bear this risky characteristic. The tree also exudes a milky sap from its cut stems and young spurts. The cattle, goats and other domestic animals never become successful to touch the shrub. It seems that they might have the awareness about the fatal results a meal of Oleander leaves would have. However, the poison of the `Oleander Tree` has some important uses as well. The medical persons put it to use. They make a paste from the bark of the roots and apply this as a remedy for ringworm. Leprosy and boils are also treated with the preparations that contain the poison. Some people also claim that, if the leaves are boiled in oil, it can be effective in curing the skin diseases. The Hindus often choose the flowers as an offering to the God Shiva
. The `Hookah` tubes are also sometimes made from the stalks.