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Thevetia peruviana, yellow oleander

Thevetia peruviana, yellow oleander


Though known as the 'suicide tree', its 'success' rate, at under 10%, makes it an unreliable choice.

Blog Entries

Read more about Thevetia peruviana, yellow oleander in these blog entries;
Poisonous Plants 1-2-1 video on the two oleanders
Cattle in Bermuda die after eating oleander leaves



Thevetia peruviana, yellow oleander

Meaning of the Name

Named after the French monk, André Thevet (1502-1592) who is credited with 'discovering' the plant during his travels in South America.

From Peru 

Common Names and Synonyms

yellow oleander, lucky nut, suicide tree, be-still nuts

'Poisonous Plants 1-2-1' video

This short video summarising the story of the two oleanders is just one of a series.

How Poisonous, How Harmful?

Contains thevetin, a cardiac glycoside, said to have a digitalis type action on the heart.


Thevetia peruviana, yellow oleander

In a paper on treatment of Thevetia peruviana poisoning, M. Eddleston et al describe 351 cases in Sri Lanka, in a three year period, but say that there are 'thousands' of cases each year, the majority being deliberate ingestion by young women. Of the cases described in the paper only two died suggesting Thevetia is not the perfect suicide weapon it is sometimes said to be.

In general, it is said that under 10% of cases of ingestion will prove fatal.

One fatal incident was reported from Cyprus where a tourist, visiting from south-east Asia, was seen to pick and eat parts of the plant in a park, apparently in order to commit suicide.

Folklore and Facts

Thevetia is said to originate in south America and be an introduced plant in Asia where it now appears to do most harm.

Like many poison plants, its extremely bitter taste is a disincentive to accidental ingestion and it has a strongly emetic effect which further limits the harm it does.