Catharanthus roseus is an ornamental and medicinal plant, used to treat cancer. It is classified as a semi-shrub and can grow up to about 100 cm tall. It has shiny dark green leaves arranged in opposite pairs. The leaves are oval to oblong, 2.5 – 9.0 cm long and 1.0 – 3.5 cm broad, with a light green midrib and a short petiole about 1.0 – 1.8 cm long. The bloom has 5 petals with a basal tube about 2.5 – 3 cm long. The plant blossoms throughout the year. The five-petaled blossoms are typically rose pink, but there are many cultivars with pink, red, purple and white flowers. The pink and the white assortments are grown for its medicinal value. The fruit is a pair of follicles, 2 – 4 cm long and 3 mm broad.
Scientific Name: Catharanthus roseus
Common Names: Madagascar periwinkle, Rose periwinkle, Rosy periwinkle, Vinca, Cape periwinkle. Synonyms: Vinca rosea, Ammocallis rosea, Lochnera rosea.
How to grow and maintain Catharanthus roseus:
The Rose periwinkle plant does best in full sun to partial shade.
Rose periwinkle does best in a poor, well-drained moist soil. The soil pH level between 5.5 and 5.8.
Rose periwinkle requires plenty of bright light, warm temperatures 65° F and above.
Rose periwinkle should be water twice a day during the growing season, but it is relatively drought resistant once established. Actually, it is unusually drought resistant for an annual. It is not at all tolerant of overwatering.
Fertilize the rose periwinkle plants once a month with a 10-10-10 nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium water-soluble fertilizer. Blend 1 teaspoon of fertilizer with 1 gallon of water, or as indicated by the directions on the package. Apply the fertilizer in place of a watering.
Rose periwinkle can be propagated from seed, but also can be rooted from cuttings taken in spring or summer. If propagated from seed it will flower more profusely. Catharanthus roseus will reseed itself if the soil is loose.
Pests and Diseases:
Aphids, thrips, Rhizoctonia, and pythium are potential threats.
- Catharanthus roseus is utilized as an anticancer agent. It is most effective for the treatment of lung cancer. It has antibacterial and antiviral property. The blossom petals and seeds have antioxidant property.
- Catharanthus roseus regularizes bleeding problem for women. It is likewise valuable for the treatment of Asthma. It is also proved harmful to pregnant women. Before using the plant extract, one must consult a health specialist.