What’s blooming today? (Oleander and Poker plant)

Nerium oleander (photo: Ann King Filmer)

Nerium oleander (photo: Ann King Filmer, copyright)

Here are photos of two plants taken today (May 22, 2013) in Davis, California — oleander (Nerium oleander) and apricot-flowered poker plant (Kniphofia uvaria ‘Echo Mango’).

Oleander (Nerium oleander) has such beautiful flowers (from white to pink to dark magenta), but the plant is so over-used in California that people no longer bother to stop and look at it. It gets by with very little water.

Two oleander shrubs (photo: Ann King Filmer)

Two oleander shrubs (photo: Ann King Filmer, copyright)

The entire plant is extremely toxic, but that doesn’t stop it from being planted in home gardens and landscapes throughout California. The plant contains cardiac glycosides which can affect the action of heart muscles and disrupt normal heart rhythms (yes, it can be fatal). Initial symptoms are varied — dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and blurred vision. The sap of oleander is also reported to cause skin dermatitis. Enjoy its beauty, but beware its poisons.

Kniphofia uvaria 'Echo Mango' (photo: Ann King Filmer)

Kniphofia uvaria ‘Echo Mango’ (photo: Ann King Filmer, copyright)

Poker plant (Kniphofia uvaria ‘Echo Mango’) is native to South Africa, but well adapted to California’s Mediterranean climate. The ‘Echo Mango’ variety in my garden is a beautiful yellow in color, but other varieties can be coral or white. The flowers attract hummingbirds.

The photo here is of a very young plant — it will form a larger, dense clump with multiple flowers.

Kniphofia uvaria 'Echo Mango' (photo: Ann King Filmer)

Kniphofia uvaria ‘Echo Mango’ (photo: Ann King Filmer, copyright)

Kniphofia uvaria 'Echo Mango' (photo: Ann King Filmer)

Kniphofia uvaria ‘Echo Mango’ (photo: Ann King Filmer, copyright)

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About afilmer

Ann Filmer is director of communications in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis (UC Davis).
This entry was posted in Birds, Gardens, Poisonous plants, UC Davis, What's blooming today? and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What’s blooming today? (Oleander and Poker plant)

  1. Lemonade says:

    I remember when I was a kid traveling with my family to the west coast, we stayed at a campground with rows and rows of what my mom later said was Oleander, I remember it to this day and think about it often.

    • afilmer says:

      I spent my childhood on the east coast, and my adult life in California. I have a similar memory from a childhood trip to California. Although I have lived here more than three decades, I am still astounded to go outdoors in January and see flowers. Thanks for your memory.

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