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Monday, April 18, 2011

The magic and danger of Oleander

'O' is for Oleander for today's Magical Monday during the A to Z Blogging Challenge

Being a gardener, I’d long heard about the highly poisonous oleander plant, given much attention in murder mysteries. When I moved to Tampa, I was surprised it seemed to be everywhere. It’s easy to grow, requires little care, can be trimmed into hedges, and has lovely flowers. 

According to Greek mythology, oleander means romance and charm. A beautiful Greek maiden was wooed by Leander who swam the Hellespont every night to see his beloved. One night he was drowned in a storm. Crashing waves threw his body against sharp rocks. His lover found him dead on the sand as she walked the shores calling "Oh Leander, Oh Leander." The beautiful flower was clutched in his hand. She removed it and kept it has a symbol of their love. Magically it continued to grow and from this symbol of everlasting love came the beautiful and abundant oleander.

When I needed a tall screen of plants on one side of our new hot tub, the nurseryman recommended oleander. I raised both eyebrows, but he quickly explained that although poisonous, a person must ingest a lot to feel toxic effects. References report all parts of the plants contain toxins, but normally only small children are at risk of fatal effects, being small in mass. The plants are outside of our screened porch, a very uncommon spot for people to frequent, so I don’t worry. They are growing fast and I can’t deny they look pretty, covered with blossoms. The picture at the top is in my garden.

I prefer to think of it symbolizing everlasting magical love.


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8 comments:

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

That is a really stinken cool story! Beautiful flowers!!

Marsha A. Moore said...

Thanks lots!

J.L. Campbell said...

We have lots of it here in Jamaica. I mostly see the pink variety. Didn't have a clue they were poisonous.

Hart Johnson said...

Ha! I am actually writing a mystery with Oleander as murder weapon right now. It is a gardening themed mystery, so it seemed fitting. I love what it looks like, and barring small kids, think, why not. (sort of like foxglove, eh?)

Marsha A. Moore said...

@J.L.--I have some others that are dark pink and really pretty.

@Hart--Good choice to use in a murder mystery!

Karen Peterson said...

I've always been fascinated how something so beautiful and innocent-looking could be so deadly.

Josh Hoyt said...

wow an amazing garden and view. Cool story and great information to know.

Marsha A. Moore said...

@Karen--It amazes me too!

@Josh--Thanks lots!