When strolling through Camana Bay this time of year, you are likely to catch the strong fragrance of roses in the air. Although this scent is commonly associated with Rosa sp., one of the most distinguishable flowers in the world, there are many other flowers that carry the same scent – including Strophanthus gratus, or climbing oleander.
In Camana Bay, you’ll find the plant climbing up the sides of buildings in Jasmine Court, near the cinema. Native to west and west central Africa, the climbing oleander is a sun-loving, tropical climbing vine, which can reach heights of up to 80 feet. Its semi-deciduous glossy leaves shimmer in the sun beckoning one to come in to trace the strong rose scent emanating from its blush-colored flowers and shiny maroon flower buds.
Used as an ornamental in the tropics, this stunning vine is a great substitute for the scent of the common rose, which will not tolerate the heat and humidity of the tropics. This winter-flowering beauty prefers moist, well-draining soils, and can even tolerate a bit of shade. Climbing oleander can be a knock-out addition to your home landscape, but plant it a safe distance away from pets and children, because just like the true oleander, it does have some toxic plant parts.
Despite its rose-like aroma, climbing oleander probably isn’t a suitable flower to send the object of your affection for Valentine’s Day, an occasion when various colours of roses are traditionally given to celebrate of love and relationships. The exchange of flowers to show affection became popular during the Victorian era, when it was taboo to express feelings out loud. The “Language of Flowers,” also known as Floriography, was introduced during this period to pass along non-verbal messages via arrangements of flowers. Each and every flower has a different meaning, but the most common are those of love, friendship, happiness and admiration.