Mexican Oleander – Thevetia peruviana – Ajaytao
Common name: Mexican oleander, Lucky Nut, geeloleander (Afrikaans)
Hindi: Peeli kaner पीली कनेर • Bengali: Kolkaphul
Botanical name: Thevetia peruviana
Family: Apocynaceae (oleander family)
Species: T. peruviana
Synonyms: Thevetia neriifolia, Cascabela thevetia
Mexican oleander is a large shrub or a small tree, up to 10 to 20 feet tall with Oleander-like leaves mostly in whorls of three, long and narrow up to 10 inches long. Tip of leafs are pointed with a dark green color. Flowers are generally yellow, but there are varieties with white and orange flowers too. Fruit is small, containing two to four flat seeds. Flowers bloom from summer to fall. The long funnel-shaped sometimes-fragrant yellow (less commonly apricot, sometimes white, Coral/Apricot, Bright Yellow,Cream/Tan) flowers are in few-flowered terminal clusters. Its fruit is deep red-black in color encasing a large seed that bears some resemblance to a ‘Chinese lucky nut.’
Traditional uses have included treatment of swelling, leprosy, eye diseases, and skin disorders. Despite the danger, oleander seeds and leaves are used to make medicine. Oleander is used for heart conditions, asthma, epilepsy, cancer, painful menstrual periods, leprosy, malaria, ringworm, indigestion, and venereal disease; and to cause abortions. A fixed combination of oleander leaf powdered extract, pheasant’s eye fluid extract, lily-of-the-valley fluid extract, and squill powdered extract has been used for treating mild heart failure.Oleander has been used as an abortifacient. Oleander extracts have been used in China to treat neurologic and psychiatric disorders.
The anti-cancer effects of oleander extracts are being investigated largely in in vitro cell line models. Anvirzel (Ozelle Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), an aqueous extract of Nerium oleander, is currently being studied in phase I trials for its antitumor effects.
Thevetia peruvians is a very poisonous plant of central and southern Mexico and Central America. It is a close relative of Nerium oleander, if ingested may experience pain in the mouth and lips, may also develop vomiting, cramping, abdominal pain, nausea and bradycardia shortly after ingestion.
The term “Oleander” refers to two common plant species, Nerium oleander (common oleander) and Thevetia peruviana (yellow oleander), which grow in temperate climates throughout the world. Both species contain cardiac glycosides with digoxin-like effects, and both species are toxic with well-described reports of fatal ingestion. Recent evidence suggests that the use of activated charcoal may be beneficial in cases of oleander toxicity or overdose. Otherwise, it is often suggested to manage toxicity similarly to other cardiac glycosides such as
A known instrument of homicide, and gained popularity as an agent used in suicide attempts in Sri Lanka in the 1980s. The “cardiotonic” effects of oleander were investigated in the 1930s, but this use was largely abandoned due to significant gastrointestinal toxicity and a perceived narrow therapeutic to toxic window.
A few bird species are however known to feed on them without any ill effects. These include the Asian Koel, Red-whiskered Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Brahminy Myna, Common Myna and Common Grey Hornbill.