A native of Madagascar the world’s fourth largest island, found off the east coast of Africa. The botanical name of this tropical and evergreen plant is Catharanthus Roseus. Madagascan Periwinkle is a hardy, moderate growing and easy to care plant. It can grow up to 2 feet, but hybrids of this plant grow only up to 8 inches. This plant is also popular as houseplants.
The plant has opposite glossy leaves and flat flowers with five-petals. The flowers are rose pink, mauve, white or scarlet red. Madagascar Periwinkle is a perennial plant, which flourishes in warm climate.
Plant the cuttings in summer and sow seeds during March. Seed requires 21-24 degrees C (70 – 75 degrees F) and they should be just covered with compost for germination. Prick out the saplings into free-draining compost. When potting, place 3-4 plants per pot, and pinch out a couple of times to encourage bushy growth. Full light is needed to ensure blooming. Screen from direct sun in Summer.
The plant produces tow alkaloids Vincristine and Vinblastine from its sap, which are very crucial in cancer-fighting medicines. Around 70 useful alkaloids have been identified from it. In Madagascar islands, the extracts from this plant has been used for more than hundred years in Herbal medicine for the treatment of diabetes, blood pressure and also used as disinfectants.
The name alkaloid is derived from the word alkaline, they are derivatives of amino acids produced by animals, plant or fungi. Alkaloids have pharmacological effects on humans and other animals.
Alkaline: It is an adjective commonly used in English as a synonym for base, especially for soluble bases.