Catharanthus roseus

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 Catharanthus roseus subsp. var.  
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Apocynaceae > Catharanthus roseus var. ,

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Vinca rosea, Linn. Madagascar Periwinkle. Fig. 3934. Tender erect ever-blooming plant, somewhat shrubby at the base: lvs. oblong, narrowed at base, veiny: petiole glandular at the base: fls. with a very small orifice, rosy purple or white, the latter with or without a reddish eye; calyx-lobes linear, corolla-lobes dimidiate-obovate, mucronulate. Cosmopolitan in the tropics. Gn.36. p. 455; 43, p. 389. V. 13:49; 16:49. B.M. 248. F.R. 1:141. G. 11:197; 14:333; 37:205.—This is commonly called the "Madagascar periwinkle," but V. rosea is probably not native to the Old World, while the only species of Vinca that is really native to Madagascar, viz., V. lancea, is not in cult. The plant is sometimes called "Cape periwinkle" and "old maid." The three main types should be known as V. rosea, V. rosea var. alba, V. rosea var. oculata, the latter being a white fl. with pink or red center. As a matter of fact, these appear in American catalogues as V. alba, V. alba pura, V. alba nova, V. oculata, and V. varius, the last being a trade name for seed of mixed varieties. Var. delicata, Hort., is a trade name.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar Periwinkle) is a species of Catharanthus native and endemic to Madagascar. Synonyms include Vinca rosea (the basionym), Ammocallis rosea, and Lochnera rosea; other English names occasionally used include Cape Periwinkle, Rose Periwinkle, Rosy Periwinkle, and "Old-maid".[1][2]

In the wild, it is an endangered plant; the main cause of decline is habitat destruction by slash and burn agriculture.[3] It is also however widely cultivated and is naturalised in subtropical and tropical areas of the world.[4]

It is an evergreen subshrub or herbaceous plant growing to 1 m tall. The leaves are oval to oblong, 2.5–9 cm long and 1–3.5 cm broad, glossy green, hairless, with a pale midrib and a short petiole 1–1.8 cm long; they are arranged in opposite pairs. The flowers are white to dark pink with a darker red centre, with a basal tube 2.5-3 cm long and a corolla 2–5 cm diameter with five petal-like lobes. The fruit is a pair of follicles 2–4 cm long and 3 mm broad.[5][6][4][7]


Catharanthus roseus cultivated in Brazil as a garden plant

The species has long been cultivated for herbal medicine and as an ornamental plant. In traditional Chinese medicine, extracts from it have been used to treat numerous diseases, including diabetes, malaria and Hodgkin's disease.[5] The substances vinblastine and vincristine extracted from the plant are used in the treatment of leukaemia.[3]

This conflict between historical indigenous use, and recent patents on C.roseus-derived drugs by western pharmaceutical companies, without compensation, has led to accusations of biopiracy.[8]

It can be dangerous if consumed orally.[3] It can be hallucinogenic, and is cited (under its synonym Vinca rosea) in the Louisiana State Act 159.

As an ornamental plant, it is appreciated for its hardiness in dry and nutritionally deficient conditions, popular in subtropical gardens where temperatures never fall below 5 °C to 7 °C, and as a warm-season bedding plant in temperate gardens. It is noted for its long flowering period, throughout the year in tropical conditions, and from spring to late autumn in warm temperate climates. Full sun and well-drained soil are preferred. Numerous cultivars have been selected, for variation in flower colour (white, mauve, peach, scarlet and reddish-orange), and also for tolerance of cooler growing conditions in temperate regions. Notable cultivars include 'Albus' (white flowers), 'Grape Cooler' (rose-pink; cool-tolerant), the Ocellatus Group (various colours), and 'Peppermint Cooler' (white with a red centre; cool-tolerant).[4]

C. roseus is used in plant pathology as an experimental host for phytoplasmas.[9] This is because it is easy to infect with a large majority of phytoplasmas, and also often has very distinctive symptoms such as phyllody and significantly reduced leaf size.[10]


Diseases and Pests




External links

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