What is a Yellow Oleander?

J.M. Densing

A Yellow oleander, scientific name Thevetia peruviana, is an evergreen shrub with a striking appearance and lovely yellow flowers. Other common names include "Mexican oleander" and "lucky nut." Yellow oleander is native to South America and thrives in a tropical climate. It's also a popular landscape plant in areas with warm climates due to its attractive appearance and is relatively easy to care for. All parts of the plant are poisonous, and immediate medical attention is needed in the event of ingestion.

Blurry vision and mental confusion are two possible symptoms of yellow oleander poisoning.
Blurry vision and mental confusion are two possible symptoms of yellow oleander poisoning.

Yellow oleander can grow very tall, 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 m), in its native habitat, but is considerably shorter in cultivation, about 4 to 12 feet (1.2 to 3.6 m). It can be trained to grow as a tree with a single trunk or allowed to grow in a more natural bushy shape. The branches are woody, splitting off in multiple directions. The leaves are about 2.2 to 5 inches (5.5 to 15 cm) long and narrow and coming to a point at the end. They are a deep glossy green, with a smooth leathery texture.

Yellow oleander is native to South America.
Yellow oleander is native to South America.

The flowers of the Yellow oleander are about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 cm) long and grow in clusters at the ends of the branches. They are usually a rich, bright shade of yellow, though there is a peach colored variety as well. They have gently overlapping petals forming a funnel shape with a deep center containing pollen and nectar. They are attractive to bees and butterflies and have a sweet fragrance. Yellow oleander flowers bloom repeatedly during the warm seasons and are followed by fleshy, seed containing fruit.

The native area of the Yellow oleander is South America, in the West Indies, Mexico, and Belize. It thrives in a tropical, humid climate. If cultivated in a cooler climate, it will need to be brought indoors for the winter, and is best planted in a container.

Yellow oleander is often planted as a landscape plant in areas with warm climates. It's often used as a hedge, screen, or border plant and does well in a sunny location. It should be planted in well drained soil and allowed to dry out a bit between waterings. It can be lightly pruned to maintain shape after its done flowering, usually in the fall.

All parts of the Yellow oleander plant are poisonous if ingested, particularly the seeds, and contact with the skin can cause irritation. It should not be planted in areas where children or pets are likely to play. Symptoms of poisoning include blurred vision, nausea, irregular heartbeat, confusion, dizziness, and rash. If ingestion of any part of the plant is suspected, immediate medical attention is required.

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