Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Oleander is an evergreen shrub. All parts of oleander are very poisonous.

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How does this weed affect you?

Oleander is an occasional garden escape.

Toxicity

Oleander is highly toxic to humans and can cause serious illness and death if ingested. All parts the plant are poisonous, especially the leaves and flowers, causing vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, convulsions, irregular pulse and then respiratory distress. Smoke from burning the plants is also toxic, and oleander is also a skin irritant. Poisonings from oleander are rare, as it has a foul taste.     

What to do if poisoning occurs:

  • If the patient is unconscious, unresponsive or having difficulty breathing dial 000 or get to the emergency section of a hospital immediately.
  • If the patient is conscious and responsive call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 or your doctor.
  • If going to a hospital take a piece of the plant for identification.

What does it look like?

Oleander is an evergreen multistemmed shrub up to 8 m high and 3 m wide. The leathery leaves are up to 20 cm long and 3 cm wide.  The flowers are usually pink but may be white or red. The fruit is a dry reddish brown follice up to 15 cm long and 1 cm wide.

References

PlantNET (The NSW Plant Information Network System). Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney. Retrieved 18 July 2022 from https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Nerium~oleander

Shepherd R.C.H (2010) Is that plant poisonous?. (Everbest Printing, China).

More information

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Control

Use gloves and other personal protective equipment to protect from this poisonous plant. 

By hand

Remove the entire plant including the roots. Cut back all the stems to access the stump and roots. Dig out as much of the root system as possible. New shoots will grow from roots left behind. Follow up by continuing to cut the new stems until the roots are exhausted and shoots stop appearing. Carefully dispose of all cut stems to stop them from reshooting. If possible, bag and dispose of seed pods.

Disposal

Contact your local council for advice on disposal. Never burn oleander as the smoke is poisonous.

Chemical control

Basal barking

Basal barking can be used for plants with stems up to 5 cm in diameter at the base. Liberally spray the bark all the way around the stem from ground level to 30 cm high. Wet thoroughly to the point of runoff. Apply to dry stems as wet stems can repel the mixture. 

Cut stump method

Herbicide and diesel: Cut trunks or stems less than 15 cm above the ground. Apply herbicide to the cut and the sides of the stump immediately.

Gel herbicide: Cut stems horizontally preferably no higher than 10 cm above the ground. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm in diameter and 5 mm layer on stems more than 20 mm in diameter.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


Picloram 44.7 g/L + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump application. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel to stems with a diameter less than 20 mm. Apply 5 mm layer on stems with a diameter more than 20 mm .
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 240 g/L + Picloram 120 g/L (Access™ )
Rate: 1.0 L in 60 L of diesel (or biodiesel such as Biosafe).
Comments: Basal bark application for plants with stems up to 5 cm diameter at the base. Cut stump application can be used for plants with stems up to and in excess of 5 cm diameter at the base. See label for information about biodiesel.
Withholding period: Nil
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2022