Thevetia peruviana

scientific name: 
Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) K. Schum.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Shrub or small tree 3-7 m high, glabrous with milky sap. Leaves spirally arranged, linear, 10-15 x 0.6-1cm, shiny on the upper side; Inflorescence terminal cymes, few-flowered; corolla tubular-campanulate, flower 7-8.5 cm long, bright yellow or pinkish-orange; fruit sickle-shape, 2 x 3 cm, yellow when ripe with a single triangular seed 2 x3 cm.



nervous breakdown:

  leaf, decoction, orally1

Ingestion of the entire plant is toxic to humans14-15.

The leaf, taken orally at variable dosage, induced cardiotoxicity in 351 cases of human poisoning (men and women)16.

The ingestion of the seed causes a toxic condition characterized by dryness of mouth and throat, dilation of pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and hypotension that may lead to death17.

The toxic effects of thevetin are typically nausea, chills, abdominal malaise, abortion due to death of fetus, frequent urination, paleness, postration, arrhythmia, bradycardia and cardiac arrest.  Antidotes are phenytoin, lidocaine and potassium salts18.

Thevetin may be cardiotoxic when taken orally17.

TRAMIL Research2

Preliminary phytochemical screening (leaf)
















steroids, terpenoids:





The leaf contains triterpenes: aand b-amyrin3, ursolic acid and derivatives4; cardenolides: 18,20-epoxydigitoxigenin derivatives5, digitoxigenin derivatives5-7, cannogenin derivatives5-6, carda-13(18),20(22)-dienolide derivatives4, thevetin A, thevetiogenin derivatives6, thevetiosides A-I7, uzarigenin derivatives5-6; monoterpenes: theviridosides8; phenylpropanoids: o-coumaric and ferulic acids9; benzenoids: gentisic acid10; flavonoids: kaempferol derivatives, quercetin and derivatives11.

The hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the leaf had uterine stimulant effects in an isolated preparation of guinea pig uterus12, but not in rat uterus12.

The ethanolic extract from the leaf administered intravenously to guinea pigs is cardiotonic13.

According to published and other information

Use of the leaf is classified as TOXIC (TOX). Given the toxicity of the leaf of this plant, its use by oral administration is discouraged, regardless of how recognized its alleged therapeutic properties may be.

In the event of poisoning from ingestion, seek medical attention.




1 WENIGER B, 1987-88 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

2 WENIGER B, SAVARY H, DAGUIHL R, 1984 Tri phytochimique de plantes de la liste TRAMIL. Laboratoire de chimie des substances naturelles, Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie, Université d'Etat d'Haïti, Port au Prince, Haïti.TRAMIL I, Port au Prince, Haïti, Fac. de Médecine/enda-caribe.

3 SIDDIQUI S, SIDDIQUI BS, ADIL Q, BEGUM S, 1992 Cardenolides and triterpenoids of the leaves of Thevetia neriifolia. Phytochemistry 31(10):3541-3546.

4 BEGUM S, ADIL Q, SIDDIQUI BS, SIDDIQUI S, 1993 Constituents of the leaves of Thevetia neriifolia. J Nat Prod 56(4):613-617.

5 ABE F, YAMAUCHI T, WAN ASC, 1992 Cardiac glycosides from the leaves of Thevetia neriifolia. Phytochemistry 31(9):3189-3193.

6 ABE F, YAMAUCHI T, YAHARA S, NOHARA T, 1994 Glycosides of 19-formylthevetiogenin and 5-alpha-thevetiogenin from Thevetia neriifolia. Phytochemistry 37(5):1429-1432.

7 ABE F, YAMAUCHI T, NOHARA T, 1992 C-Nor-D-homo-cardenolide glycosides from Thevetia neriifolia. Phytochemistry 31(1):251-254.

8 ABE F, YAMAUCHI T, YAHARA S, NOHARA T, 1995 Minor iridoids from Thevetia peruviana. Phytochemistry 38(3):793-794.

9 DANIEL M, SABNIS S, 1978 Chemotaxonomical studies on Apocynaceae. Indian J Exp Biol 16(4):512-513.

10 GRIFFITHS L, 1959 On the distribution of gentisic acid in green plant. J Exp Biol 10:437-442.

11 ABE F, IWASE Y, YAMAUCHI T, YAHARA S, NOHARA T, 1995 Flavonol sinapoyl glycosides from leaves of Thevetia peruviana. Phytochemistry 40(2):577-581.

12 LI CC, 1962 Pharmacological investigation of foliaThevetia peruviana Merr. Yao Xue Xue Bao 13:753-756.

13 THORP RH, WATSON TR, 1953 A survey of the occurrence of cardio-active constituents in plants growing wild in Australia. I. Families Apocynaceae and Asclepiadaceae. Aust J Exp Biol 31(5):529-532.

14 WEE YC, GOPALAKRISHNAKONE P, CHAN A, 1988 Poisonous plants in Singapore - a colour chart for identification with symptoms and signs of poisoning. Toxicon 26(1):47.

15 FERNANDO R, 1988 Plant poisoning in Sri Lanka. Toxicon 26(1):20.

16 EDDLESTON M, ARIARATNAM CA, SJOSTROM L, JAYALATH S, RAJAKANTHAN K, RAJAPAKSE S, COLBERT D, MEYER WP, PERERA G, Attapattu s, kularatne sa, sheriff mr, warrell da, 2000 Acute yellow oleander (Thevetia peruviana) poisoning: cardiac arrhythmias, electrolyte disturbances, and serum cardiac glycoside concentrations on presentation to hospital. Heart 83(3):301-306.

17 PHADKE MV, NAIK SG, 1963 Yellow oleander (Cerebra thevetia) poisoning. (Case report). Indian J Child Health 12:210-213.

18 Abreu Matos FJ, 2000 Plantas medicinais, guía de seleção e emprego de plantas usadas em fitoterapia no nordeste do Brasil. 2ª ed. Fortaleza, Brasil: UFC Imprensa universitária. p97.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.