Cascabela thevetia: Yellow Oleander

Family: Apocynaceae
Common name: Yellow Oleander, Lucky nut, Thevetia peruviana

They are technically ‘yellow oleander trees‘, but they only grow as tall as bushes, about 10 feet tall. In the wild, they are capable of growing upto 20 feet. This plant is a distant cousin of Nerium oleander, but there is little resemblance. The leaves are thin, waxy and long to prevent excessive water loss.

Flowers are glowing yellow, with 5 spirally overlapping petals joined at the center in a funnel. The overlapping petals make the flowers pretty even when they are closed. Their fruits are green and rounded initially, containing a single smooth seed. Later then it turns red and then black.

All parts of the plant including stem, leaves, flowers and fruits are toxic, to the extent that they are used as poison to commit suicide. The poison affects the heart and stomach, but can be counteracted by antidotes. In spite of its extreme toxicity, yellow oleander plants are still preferred in gardens due to their beautiful foliage and colorful flowers. These flowers are also used in worship of Lord Vishnu.

Yellow Oleander plants are very sturdy and drought-resistant; and requires very little maintenance. The flowers contain nectar that attracts insects and bees, thus encouraging pollination. Yellow Oleander plants are mainly used as ornamental plants; and also as roadside plants in India since most cattle do not eat them due to their toxicity.

Propagation is from seeds and stem cuttings.

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