35. The Oleander


You don't see many flowers in the hot season. Most plants are too busy trying to survive our terrible summer drought to bother about looking seductive to insects! One tree seems to defy all this, and explodes in colour even in the hottest months: it's the oleander (M: oljandru or difla). In the wild they grow along streams and valley beds, and in Malta truly wild oleanders are hard to come by. But happily the species is much in demand as an ornamental, and widely grown along centre strips and roundabouts. The oleander can turn the most boring stretch of road into a lush green avenue awash with red, pink and white blossom. The tree is also easy to propagate, it's fast-growing, evergreen and can withstand pollution and even sea spray. No wonder it's so popular. But watch it: its milky sap is poisonous.

Text by Victor Falzon, photo by Desirée Falzon. Copyright of Birdlife Malta.

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