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Oleander, Nerium oleander

When looking at the beautiful flowers of the oleander, many quickly become enthusiastic. The lush flowering shrubs remind us of sun, sand and sea. That is why the oleander, also known as rose laurel, is often cultivated as a container plant. But what pleases the heart can be deadly for the heart, because the shrub is poisonous in all parts. Its venom can even cause cardiac arrest in the right dose. Therefore, it should always be treated with due respect.

Poison in the oleander

The oleander, Latin Nerium oleander, is the only plant of the Nerium genus and belongs to the dogbane family. The plant is cultivated in pots and, as the name of the plant family suggests, is very poisonous. The poison concentration in the leaves is particularly high. The poison contained in rose laurel is the cardiac glycoside oleandrin.

effect of the poison

Oleandrin begins to work when parts of the shrub are chewed and swallowed. The toxic cardiac glycoside stimulates intercardiac muscle activity. Ingestion of the poison also causes hypoxemia. The death of humans and animals occurs through cardiac paralysis.

Touching the plant alone does not lead to fatal poisoning, but can cause severe skin irritation. However, caution is required when cutting the oleander. If the juice of the plant enters the body through wounds on the skin, this can lead to poisoning. It can also trigger allergic reactions such as itching and redness on healthy skin.

Gardening gloves should therefore always be worn when working with the plant and the cutting waste should be disposed of accordingly. Also, don't forget to clean the secateurs after cutting. A quasi-natural protection against oleander poisoning is its extremely bitter taste. This means that the consumed plant parts are immediately spat out or vomited.

symptoms of poisoning

The oleander bush is poisonous to humans and animals. The severity of the poisoning depends on the dose administered. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the body size and weight, the lower the lethal dose. The first symptoms of poisoning can appear in humans after eating just a few leaves. The lethal dose is given as 15 to 20 grams of oleander leaves.

Since the glycoside in rose laurel causes cardiac arrhythmias in the right amount, which can lead to death after two to three hours in the event of severe poisoning, you should call the relevant emergency numbers for humans or animals immediately if you suspect oleander poisoning.


Symptoms of poisoning in humans

  • Vomit
  • diarrhea
  • a headache
  • cramps
  • Decreased pulse
  • pupil dilation
  • blue lips and hands

If the first symptoms of poisoning appear, drinking water or juice is an effective first-aid measure. If possible, see a doctor immediately or go straight to the hospital. Under no circumstances should you make the poisoned person vomit or give him milk to drink. He can choke on the former, and milk encourages the poison to be absorbed through the intestines.


Symptoms of poisoning in animals

Rose laurel is fatally toxic to pets such as dogs and cats, hares, rabbits, and guinea pigs and hamsters. However, oleandrin also leads to death from cardiac paralysis in horses, cattle, goats and sheep in the right amount. The lethal dose for dogs and cats is less than one gram of oleander leaves. The greatest danger to life for your darling is when cramps and vomiting occur.

  • pupil dilation
  • drop in body temperature
  • cool legs
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
  • diarrhea
  • cramps
  • Vomit

Blossoms or leaves lying on the ground represent a particular danger for puppies. The young dogs can swallow the parts of the plant out of curiosity. Since the shrub is often placed in parks or other public places as an ornamental plant, you should definitely keep your dog on a short leash in these places.

For cats, sharpening their claws on the trunk of the oleander can be deadly. In this case, the poison enters the body with the plant sap. If your pet shows signs of poisoning, you should see a veterinarian immediately. Infusions and appropriate medication are intended to help the animal excrete the poison. As with humans, do not make the animal vomit. Instead, offer him water to drink.


To protect children and pets from poisoning, several precautions should be taken.

  • Forgoing the plant is the best protection
  • place out of the reach of children and pets
  • Dispose of fallen flowers, leaves or small branches safely immediately
  • Dispose of cutting waste in a safe manner for children and pets
  • the winter quarters must also be safe
  • increased caution on playgrounds and in hotel complexes

Always wear gardening gloves and long pants and long-sleeved clothing when working with the plant to avoid any skin contact. Depending on the size of the oleander, protective goggles are also recommended.

Under no circumstances should the branches of the oleander be used as skewers, as the poison penetrates the food when grilling or skewering.

Oleander as a medicinal plant

Like many poisonous plants, the rose laurel is used in medicine. In classical medicine it is used as a heart remedy. In homeopathy, it is used to treat weakness and damage to the heart muscle, edema, angina pectoris and inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Since the plant is highly poisonous, you should definitely give up experimenting with the oleander. A homeopathic application may only be carried out under medical supervision.

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