Friday, September 17, 2010

White Oleander

White OleanderImage via Wikipedia
"When we too are armed and trained, we can convince men that we have hands, feet, and a heart like yours; and although we may be delicate and soft, some men who are delicate are also strong; and others, coarse and harsh, are cowards. Women have not yet realized this, for if they should decide to do so, they would be able to fight you until death; and to prove that I speak the truth, amongst so many women, I will be the first to act, setting an example for them to follow."


—Veronica Franco
 
That was Venice of 1575. This is 2010.
 
Enough with the damsel in distress already!  And enough with the reactionists who take us to the other extreme with heroines so prickly it hurts to read.  Womanhood is complex, not weak or strong, but a blend of both, like the Oleander.  Beautiful and yet, it can protect itself too, with poison.

Along the same vein, you might remember my earlier posts about Goldenchain, or Colchicum....pretty plants in my settings that pack a deadly punch. Oleander is another one of those. It's a Mediterranean bush with sweetly scented, lovely blooms and its tough as nails.  Drought resistant. No animal wants to eat it. Must be the strychnine-like oleandrin that keeps everyone away.

Reportedly, lots of suicide cases in India use mashed oleander seeds.  The notorious toxin is also integral to Janet Fitch's fabulous novel/film, White Oleander.  Some people say poison is a woman's weapon.  I say you're just as dead buddy and my hands aren't dirty. ;)

I was partial to gardening until I moved south to the land of red clay and drought. Even so, I have tried to grow Oleander in my zone, but winters are a little harsh for it here.  I suppose I could grow it in a pot and bring it in for the winter, but I already have a Meyer lemon tree doing that. Oh, well! Good thing I don't need to poison anyone anytime soon...

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6 comments:

Rayna M. Iyer said...

We do have oleanders in India, but this is the first time I am hearing of them being used for suicide. Dathura, yes, oleander no. But that doesn't mean anything- perhaps I just don't know.
They are a beautiful flower, though.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Love datura/brugmansia too, but it isn't hardy here either. I don't remember seeing any in Turkey either, but maybe it's too dry there.

LTM said...

folks grow Oleander (of all colors) like crazy around here. One day I looked up and my two girls and another friend had picked large bouquets of white oleander... rut roh!!! I grabbed all three and scrubbed their little hands.

At the same time, yes, babies. The bouquets WERE beautiful~ :D <3

Hart Johnson said...

You know... I am writing gardening mysteries, and you've just reminded me not to neglect poisonous plants in future books. It really is a beautiful flower, but I'd forgotten it was poisonous (in spite of having READ While Oleander, oddly enough--there are parts of that book that really stick in my head but the connection to the title wasn't one of the things.)

Carolyn Abiad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolyn Abiad said...

The only mystery in my garden in where the rain went!

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