Casabela thevetia (Thevetia Peruviana, Be-Still Tree)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0027
  • Botanical Name: Casabela thevetia (syn. Thevetia peruviana) 
  • Common Name: Be-Still Tree, Yellow Oleander, Mexican Oleander, Luckynut
  • Cultivar: 'Aurantiaca' and 'Alba' are discussed in this post
  • Family: Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family)
  • Native To: Tropical Americas (Mexico & Central America)
Casabela thevetia flowers and foliage
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Plant Type: Small Tree, Large Shrub
  • Texture: Dense, Coarse
  • Form: Round-Headed
  • Height (on average, in landscape use): 25'
  • Height to Spread Ratio: 1:1
  • Growth Rate: Medium
  • Landscape Values: Accent, Street Tree, Background, Color, Mass, Specimen, Windbreak, Erosion Control
  • Outstanding Quality: Flower Color, Toxic
Left to Right: Casabela thevetia 'Auraniaca', Casabela thevetiaCasabela thevetia 'Alba'
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Flowers: Flower Color is yellow or orange. 'Aurantiaca' produces a salmon colored flower. 'Alba' produces a white colored flower. Alba is rare in Hawai`i. Flower feature 5 narrowly elliptic sepals about 0.3-0.4 inches. 5 petals, funnel shaped corolla, yellow, orange, salmon, or white colored petals 1 inch long. Lightly fragrant; smells of a gentle warm honey. Blooms mainly in late summer with smaller blooms occurring throughout the year. 

Casabela thevetia flower
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Casabela thevetia 'Aurantiaca' flower
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Casabela thevetia 'Alba' flower
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Fruits: Green to brown colored, turnip-shaped, 1.4"x1.75". Toxic. 
Casabela thevetia unripe fruit, the "Lucky Nut"
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Yellow Green. Mature: Medium Green
  • Foliage Tip: Acute
  • Foliage Base: Long Tapering/Attenuate
  • Petiole: 1/8" inch
  • Stipules: N/A
  • Margins: Smooth
  • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
  • Leaf Shape: linear-oblong.
  • Leaf Type: Simple
  • Leaf Texture: Both sides of the leaf are smooth (glabrous)
  • Leaf Special Notes: The leaves are slender and reminiscent of Nerium oleander. Conveniently also toxic, specifically the compound glucoside thevetin. 
Casabela thevetia adaxial leaf surface; note milky sap on petiolar end
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Casabela thevetia abaxial leaf surface
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Bark and Trunk: Textured and crackled. 
Casabela thevetia trunk
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Light Preference: Full Sun
  • Light Tolerances: Semi-Sun
  • Soil Preferences: pH of 5.5-7.0, Dry (Mesic), Dry (Xeric), Well-Drained.
  • Tolerances:  Acidic, Strong Winds, Moderate Winds, Drought
  • Water Requirements: Minimal water requirements. Known as one of the least water dependent of the xeriscaping trees.
  • Notes on Maintenance: Outbreaks of Oleander scale on foliage can be treated with oil. Mushroom root rot not uncommon in older trees around base of the trunk. Milky sap is toxic, wash hands after touching.
  • Propagation: Typically seed, but cutting and air layer often work.
  • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone: 9a-11
  • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): 9  (High Risk)

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