Common Names for the Oleander Plant

Updated February 21, 2017

Oleander (Nerium oleander) is the only species in the Nerium genus and is native to North Africa, the Mediterranean, South Asia and China. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental species thanks to its drought resistance and attractive flowers. While oleander sap is poisonous and even fatal if consumed in large quantities, it is also vile tasting and purgative and difficult to ingest without vomiting. A common legend states that some of Napoleon's troops died in of poisoning in Spain after roasting meat on oleander twigs. As a striking plant that has become naturalised across large areas of the world, the oleander has received multiple common names.


In India the oleander bush is a common garden species and it is known as kaner, kunel and karubi in the Hindi language. From this it gets the common name of kaner or kaner bush.

Rose Bay

The International Programme on Chemical Safety website contains detailed information about the toxicity of the oleander as well as a list of common names for the plant in different countries. It cites the name "Rose Bay" as the British name for oleander. The British BBC plant finder website also refers to the species as Rose Bay. The similar common name Rose Laurel is listed by the Australian Queensland Poisons Information Centre website.

Other Names

In Spain, the Philipines and Puerto Rico the oleander is known as the adelfa. The Mexican Veterinary journal includes the oleander in its list of plants toxic to livestock in Veracruz state and lists adelfa among the plant's common names.

Other Names

The International Programme on Chemical Safety reports on its website that Nerium oleander is called the Laurel Rose (laurel rosa) or Garden Laurel (laurel de jardin) in Argentina and Uruguay. In Brazil the name Saint Joseph's Flower (flor de San Jose) is cited, while in Cuba French Rose (rosa francesa) is used. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Eco Crop website lists a number of other common names for the oleander including French Willow, South Sea Rose and, in Arabic, Dafla.

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