Nerium oleander, Oleander,
Hebrew: הרדוף הנחלים, Arabic: دفلة

"Listen to me, my faithful children,
and blossom like a rose growing by a stream of water."
Sirach 39:13 (Ben Sira, circa 180–175 BCE)

Scientific name:  Nerium oleander L.
Common name:   Oleander
Hebrew name:   הרדוף הנחלים
Arabic name:   دفلة
Plant Family:  Apocynaceae, הרדופיים

Flora of Israel, Israel Wildflowers

Life form:   Phanerophyte shrub
Stems:  Up to 4m
Leaves:  Alternate, whorled, linear-lanceolate, acute, coriaceous (leather-like); evergreen
Inflorescence:  Terminal, corymbose
Flowers:  Calyx densely glandular inside; corolla 3-4cm in diameter, usually pink, cylindrical below, infundibuliform above; tube 2cm, 5 lobes 2cm, obtuse, patent; anther-appendages long, hairy, twisted
Fruits / pods:  Follicles, reddish-brown
Flowering Period:  March, April, May, June, July, August
Habitat:   Humid habitats
Distribution:  Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands, Deserts and extreme deserts, Montane vegetation of Mt. Hermon
Chorotype:  Mediterranean
Summer shedding:  Perenating

Native plants of Israel, Bible


Derivation of the botanical name:
Nerium, Oleander. Rose bay. The classical Greek name.
oleander, olea, ελαια, an olive; lorandrum, Late Latin, rhododendron; Nerium.
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.
  • Pliny the Elder book XVI 79 :"The oleander, as is shown by its name, comes from the Greeks; it is an evergreen that resembles a rose-tree, and throw out shoots for the stems; it is poiseness for cattle and for goats and sheeps, but for man it serves as an antidote against the poisons of snakes."
  • H.B.Tristram, The Natural History of the Bible: "-unequalled for the gorgeous beauty of its flowers, which shed a glowing sheet of pink over the fringe of every lake and water-course for several weeks in the early summer. This plant, the Oleander (Nerium oleander), undoubtedly indigenous, is not specially mentioned in Scripture."

  • In folk medicine it treats dermatitis, edema, hypertension and ringworm.

    Bible Resources:
    1. 2 Esdras 9:26
      So I went my way into the field which is called Ardath, like as he commanded me; and there I sat among the flowers, and did eat of the herbs of the field, and the meat of the same satisfied me.
    2. Book of Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) 24:18
      I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho:
    3. Book of Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) 39:17
      By a voice he saith: Hear me, ye divine offspring, and bud forth as the rose planted by the brooks of waters.

    Plants of the Bible