The beautiful plant, Oleander, is toxic in every aspect: leaves, milky sap, woody sticks and flowers. There is a haunted bed and breakfast here in Louisiana that gets its popularity from a story because of what happened when oleander was used as a poison! Oleander is also known as Nerium. Part One in a series of toxic plants.
The Oleander plant and flower
Urban legends starting in 1886 have placed this plant in the category of fatal when consumed by man or beast. Just seven of these leaves nearly killed a horse in California recently. Quick action by his owner saved the life of this beautiful Quarter horse gelding. In Hawaii, where I’m from, it has been said for many years that a family from the mainland was roasting hot dogs over an open campfire one night. All used sticks from a nearby Oleander bush. All family members died. There have been other stories in other places as well. Coming to Louisiana years later has me hearing a true story about The Myrtles Plantation, now a bed and breakfast, in the not to far off St. Francis ville. In earlier times when The Myrtles was a thriving plantation, a house servant named Chloe had her ear cut off by her master for her listening at the door when he was having a meeting with other plantation owners. Her revenge was deep. She then baked a birthday cake for the master’s little girl who was having a birthday celebration the following day. Chloe used the liquid from the Oleander plant-leaves, stems and flowers can be cooked with water to form a deadly concoction. The plantation owner’s two daughters and his wife were all killed and by this evil deed. Chloe was hung in a near by tree. Today, The Myrtles is considered to be one of the top ten haunted places in the U.S. One of these days I really do want to make a trip there and spend the night, but I have no idea who will want to go with me! If my daughter ,Jo, and her two little girls would go with me, I know for certain the little girls would see the ghosts, probably even before we arrived! The Myrtles is said to have ghosts of the little girls playing up and downstairs and Chloe can be seen on the porch from photos taken. I think it would be, to say the least, an interesting trip!
Every part of the Oleander shrub is deadly and rubbing up against the leaves can also cause skin irritation. The fragrance of this flower is very enticing as it has a rich, creamy, candy-type smell to it, and I’ve always said they smell good enough to eat. However, growing up in the Islands had me learn from an early age that Oleander is not a plant to go near. It has been found that just one leaf ingested by a child brings death. “In 2000, two adopted Russian boys, (aged 2 and 3), died from eating Oleander leaves off a neighbor’s hedge. Both were found dead in their cribs. Their mother stated she saw them chewing leaves a few days before they died and noticed they had picked some again the night of their deaths”. The URL to read the page from this quote can be found at: