Today’s entry was written by Claire:
Apocynaceae includes over 4500 species, with the highest diversity in tropical and subtropical regions (though there are temperate representatives as well). Thevetia peruviana is among the subtropicals. Probably native to Mexico, it has naturalized in much of the neotropics. It is also widely cultivated throughout all tropical regions, where it tends to bloom year-round. This shrub’s flowers range from the lovely apricot colour seen in Qamar’s photograph to coral, yellow, white, and even tan.
A glance at the leaves might remind of oleander (Nerium oleander). In fact, it is sometimes called yellow oleander, and the species are close relatives. Both are evergreen shrubs and have five petals arranged in an attractive whorl. Also like oleander, Thevetia peruviana is extremely toxic in all parts of the plant, containing cardiac glycosides (toxins poisonous to most vertebrates). Several bird species are known to be resistant to the toxins, including the Asian koel, bulbul, myna, and the common grey hornbill. For those animals not resistant to the poisons, the toxic effects include unpleasant cardiac and gastrointestinal symptoms (that I shouldn’t list here) when ingested. To give an idea of its strength, though, the International Programme on Chemical Safety cites a report with respect to Thevetia peruviana stating: “The absorption of the equivalent of two Thevetia peruviana leaves may be sufficient to kill a 12.5 kg (28lb) child (Ellenhorn and Barceloux, 1988)”. Be wary if you use this species as an ornamental in your garden or indoor plant!