Plant profile: Yellow oleander

Cascabela thevetia is beautiful and a hardy grower, but should be handled with care.

A illustration of yellow oleander. Kathleen Konicek-Moran for The National
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There are some plants that, while beautiful to look at, should be approached with caution – the Cascabela thevetia, or yellow oleander, is one of those. You’ll find these yellow, sweetly perfumed flowers lining much of the UAE landscape, but they’re also dangerous, invasive and toxic.

The yellow oleander is predominantly found in Mexico and Central America, and blooms from summer to autumn. Typically, it’s cultivated for ornamental purposes and planted as a large flowering shrub in gardens and parks. It doesn’t require close attention to soil quality and can thrive in almost any climatic condition, including drought.

All parts of this plant are toxic, with the seeds and fleshy, dark fruit especially dangerous if ingested. Each year, there are thousands of documented cases of accidental poisoning, particularly among children. Of those incidents, 10 per cent prove fatal, so handle this plant with care and keep it out of the reach of children. That said, there are certain species of birds that feed on these plants without any negative effects. The toxins have also been tested in experiments for use in biological pest control.