Interesting Oleander Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Uses

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Did you know that the Greeks had another common name for this beautiful flower? Being distantly related to another genus from the dogbane family, Oleanders were also referred to by the ancient Greeks as Rhododendrons and are highly regarded as ornamental flowers. If you take a closer look at these flowers, it simply is as unique as their name!

Oleanders are a popular ornamental and traditional flower. It comes in a few beautiful colors each with its own symbolic meaning. A white oleander means peace while a purple one symbolizes strength. Meanwhile, a red oleander represents love and pink stands for healing. 

History of Oleander Flowers

The Oleander can go about several names such as Rose bay, Rose of Jericho, Nerion, or even Rhododendron. These are evergreen perennial flowering shrubs native to the West Indies, North Africa, and South Asia. It is a beloved flower in southern China and has a long history behind its beauty.

Oleander flowers blooms were described by Pliny the Elder as a broadleaf evergreen, small tree with rose-like flowers. Because of its complex nature, it is often called an olive tree or desert rose and appears like a dwarf plant. Its complicated nature makes it thrive better in warm climate.

The Nerium genus, which is the genus name oleander, comes from the Greek word Neros meaning growth in a wet habitat and Olea meaning olive (or Olea europaea). It was first mentioned in 1545 and belongs to the Apocynaceae or dogbane family. Surprisingly, the earliest known records for the cultivation of this plant actually date back to 3,400 – 2475 B.C. along the banks of the Nile River. 

Here are some interesting facts about the oleander. Today, a hardier variety of oleander stands for strength and is quite a versatile plant. Some of these popular types of oleander include the common oleander (scientific name Nerium oleander), Isle of Capri blooms, and Austin Pretty Limits oleander. The Mont Blanc is an interesting variety because of its dark green leaves and twisted white flowers.

Symbolism of Oleander Blossoms

The ancient Greeks have an interesting Greek story to tell about the Rose bay floras. According to the Greek myth, a man named Leander fell deeply in love with a beautiful lady. Driven with the passion to see his love, he traveled the sea to get a glimpse of her beauty. In this story, the oleander flowers symbolize everlasting love or an endless love. 

When oleander flowers bloom, it usually symbolizes a feminine face of a god or goddess.

pink oleander

Meaning of Oleander Blooms

Oleander blooms have many colors each with different meanings. The most distinct meaning of oleanders is sending a message of caution and be wary. According to some folk, some of these colorful blooms are a sign of distrust with someone you think you trust or imminent danger is lurking nearby. Seeing these flowers will have you think twice before being comfortable with the environment and those around you! 

Aside from bearing caution, Western folk have associated an endearing meaning to these flowers. It is a flower of romance representing the nature of love.

What does a White Oleander Flower Mean?

The“Sister Agnes” oleander flowers are single or double white blooms that signify truce and peace during times of disharmony. Whether the disharmony is within you or with a dear friend, offering these white flowers sends a message of declaring peace.

What does a Red Oleander Blossom Symbolize?

Light or dark red blossoms of oleander symbolize love and passion. The deep shade and sweet fragrance of this red flower are sure to keep the love alive! Distinct from these symbolic meanings, these red flowers also symbolize death and mourning.

What does a Pink Oleander Floret Represent?

Oleander pink flowers are a sweet sight to see! These large pink flowers embody feminine beauty and grace, but it also symbolizes one’s spiritual healing and cleansing. Aside from this, it also denotes a woman’s chastity.

What does a Purple Oleander Bloom Indicate?

The attributes of great strength and bravery are represented by purple Nerion blooms. It also stands as a herald blossom of inspiration and devotion.

What is the Cultural Significance of Oleander Flowers?

Numerous cultures during the ancient times have multiple mentions of oleanders and their significance. In fact, many great artists have used oleanders in their art and paintings.

According to Italian hearsays, bringing or bestowing such flowers inside a home is an omen for disgrace and misfortune. It also meant that one is casting an illness upon the other. Meanwhile during the Victorian era, having an Oleander present meant a very complicated relationship. 

In the preserved city of Pompeii, many garden walls around the city have beautiful murals painted of oleanders. For Hindu mourners, these flowers were placed on top of dead bodies to offer prayers and guidance. 

In modern times, the flowers are highly praised for their beauty and sweet fragrance thanks to the arts and history.

What Mythologies are Associated with Oleander Plants? 

Along with many cultures, there are also many myths or stories about the Oleander flower. In Greek mythology, the story speaks of the love story between a young man and a beautiful maiden.

The young man named Leander was madly in love with Lady Love. The Hellespont kept the two apart and is a narrow strait that connects the Aegean sea and Sea of Marmara. Leander swam the Hellespont every night to get to his lover on the other side. 

Then one night, the man drowned tragically while reaching for a beautiful flower for his lady. His lover found him dead as his body washed on the shore with sharp rocks. She ran to the shores calling out “Oh, Leander Oh (then Oleander!)”. Today, their story is a symbol of undying love.

In Hebrew mythology, an oleander is a symbol of water. In the book of Ben-Sirah-It, the flowers were described as a rose planted in a sacred river. Meanwhile, Pagan beliefs are heavily symbolized by the beauty and history of the oleander.

What is the Biblical Significance with Oleander Blossoms?

Amidst the negative message Oleanders meant for the Italians, the Spanish believe in a more spiritual idea. In the Christian bible’s readings, the oleanders were known to be adorned onto Joseph’s staff. Upon the announcement of an angel that he will be the husband of the Virgin Mary, the flowers were said to have magically appeared onto his staff!

During times of sickness, a desperate mother prayed to St. Joseph for the recovery of her ill daughter. It was said that a branch of a Rose bay was seen on top of the girl after her mother’s prayer. The girl was then miraculously cured of her illness.

What does an Oleander Floral Tattoo Symbolize?

Oleander flowers are quite unique of a design to tattoo onto the body. Only those with a strong heart and inward confidence and beauty choose this design because that is what Oleander tattoos symbolize!

What does an Oleander Floral Tattoo Symbolize?

Oleander flowers are quite unique of a design to tattoo onto the body. Only those with a strong heart and inward confidence and beauty choose this design because that is what Oleander tattoos symbolize! 

Uses of Oleander Plant

Oleanders make for a great cut flower and potted shrub to give during many occasions. Cut oleander flowers have a delicate fragrance and produce a milky sap said to have healing powers. 

Traditional medicinal claims say that oleander flower blooms tend to contain oleandrin which is used to treat patients with certain heart problems. The bark and leaves are also claimed to treat certain a skin irritation when made into a decoction after extracting its oils.

It is also known as a method for inducing abortion but may cause stomach pain. The flowers are said to also cure severe headaches but cause blurred vision.

In reality, the oleander poisonous by nature. Some have gone to believe these make an excellent medicinal herb but in truth is an extremely toxic flower. A word of warning that it’s a must to always consult a medical professional before using this plant or any part of it for medical purposes.

~ image source: depositphotos/EllSan

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