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Cape Periwinkle

Botanical Name(s): Vinca Rosea (Catharanthus roseus)
Family Name: Apocynaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants)
Class: Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledons)
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Tribe: Alsloniae
Genus: Catharanthus
Species: C. roseus
Popular Name(s): Rose Periwinkle, Madagascar Periwinkle, Sadabahar, Old Maid
Parts Used: Seed, Root, Whole plant, Leaf
Habitat: Grows throughout India and found as an escape in waste places and sandy tracts

Cape periwinkle is an attractive, evergreen shrub, bearing graceful pink or white salverform flowers. The plant is native to southeastern and eastern Madagascar. It gained world recognition after the European colonists exported it as an ornamental plant. Cape periwinkle can grow in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The glossy leaves of the plant are oval to oblong in shape and arranged in opposite pairs, with a pale midrib and a short petiole. The flowers usually have five petal-like lobes in it.

The blooms of the wild periwinkle are a pale pink, with a purple "eye" in the center. The plant can grow very well in poor and well-drained soils and will suffer if the soil is very healthy or too fertile. You have to pinch back the buds early in the season, to encourage branching and a fuller plant. Madagascar periwinkle doesn't need deadheading - the flowers drop off when they finish blooming. The plant has been a boon in the treatment of many ailments, especially leukemia occurring in children. However, it can be easily infected by phytoplasmas that causes the leaves to reduce in size.

Plant Chemicals
It contains more than 70 alkaloids mostly of the indole type. It has medicinal importance owing to the presence of alkaloids like ajamalicine, serpentine and reserpine vinblastine.

Uses & Benefits of Cape Periwinkle