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".
In the wild, it is an endangered plant; the main cause of decline is habitat destruction by slash and burn agriculture. It is also however widely cultivated and is naturalised in subtropical and tropical areas of the world.
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. The substances vinblastine and vincristine extracted from the plant are used in the treatment of leukemia.
C. roseus is used in plant pathology as an experimental host for phytoplasmas. 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.
|Catharanthus roseus |