Updated: Jan 20, 2021
During the shelter-in-place, Sutro Stewards with partnership from Handson Bay Area created Nature in you Neighborhood a virtual volunteering experience where we challenge volunteers to go out into their backyard and neighborhoods to see what plants they can find near them! Below is one submission from our project with the youth from Handson Tomorrow. We hope you enjoy their discoveries!
By Tommy and Topher Sah
Hi! My brother Christopher and I, Tommy Sah, have just begun volunteering with Sutro Stewards through HandsOn Tomorrow Bay Area. When the order for the Shelter-in-place was announced, all of the volunteering opportunities Topher and I were going to participate in were cancelled, eventually leading us to HandsOn Tomorrow to not only find volunteering opportunities but to volunteer for deserving non-profit organizations such as Sutro Stewards! We have many plants in our neighborhood in Fremont, but we decided to focus our attention on the Oleander (Neurium Oleander), as we used to have Oleander in our backyard.
Although Oleander is very common in California and their flowers can be very beautiful, Oleander is classified as an invasive species in California. Oleander is native to Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, the Mediterranean region, the Sahara (where it is only found sporadically), the Arabian peninsula, and southern Asia. In the environment, the plant serves as food for some insects such as immature Polka Dot Moths (commonly known as “Oleander Caterpillars”), scale insects, aphids, and mealybugs. However, Oleander is poisonous to almost all other members of the animal kingdom. All parts of the plant are extremely poisonous, so be sure to keep your pets away from Oleander.
Oleander was brought to California from the Southeast United States to be used as shrubbery around property. The Oleander is an extremely hardy plant, being highly resistant to droughts and extreme temperatures. Because of this, the Oleander serves as a popular plant in California for marking property lines and providing privacy, as Oleander species grow between 3 to 20 feet high. Even though Oleander is highly poisonous, Oleander has medicinal purposes and can be used to treat heart conditions, asthma, epilepsy, cancer, painful menstrual periods, leprosy, malaria, ringworm, indigestion, and venereal disease. Planting Oleander on your property can cause it to spread across California and outcompete native plant species in California, so please consider planting a California native species on your property instead!