The generic name nerium derives from the Greek neros, wet, since their roots easily reach groundwater areas and their leaves are adapted to withstand drought. It is a term that is also related to Nereus, the sea god and father of the Nereids, which links to this plant with the Greek god of the Mediterranean basin.
Plant used by the Arabs in medieval Spain, the Castilian name adelfa derives from Arabic, al-dafla, which in turn comes from Greek’s name Daphne. It is a very toxic plant, but also has applications as a medicinal plant to tone the heart and as a diuretic. Anyway, in al-Andalus was known by the nickname 'poison for animals,' stating that if the plant was eaten by any creature, wild or domestic, it would die almost instantly, consideration that has remained popular in Spain until now.
That is why oleanders were cultivated in the gardens of the al-Andalus as an ornamental plant. Thus, Ibn Luyun from Almeria, who studied at Sevilla in the fourteenth century, includes it in his Treatise on Agriculture among plants grown for the delight of sight and smell. At the same time, however, Ibn Khaldun, in his al-Muqaddimah, talked about the excessive attention to aesthetics versus practicality in the Andalusian garden of that moment. Thus, he criticizes the plant growing only by its ornamental appearance. An example with oleander: not planted in the gardens but because of its beautiful red or white flowers and this is a practice introduced by the luxury that according to this historian, announces the decline of civilization.