Botanical Species Classification: MADAGASCAN ROSY PERIWINKLE

Rosy Periwinkle, Madagascar













Chart Information: (ARKive, 2011)
Left Image Source: Rosy Periwinkle. Web 11 January 2012
Right Image Source: Rosy Periwinkle. 2010. Flickr. 2010. Web. 10 January. 2012.

Common Names for the “Rosy Periwinkle”

  • The Rosy Periwinkle is often referred to as the “Madagascar Periwinkle” by local admirers.

  • The flower’s botanical, or binomial, name is the Catharanthus Roseus, which derives from its former title as, “Vinca Rosea.”

Rosy Periwinkle Seed Follicles

The Periwinkle's Fruits:

The plant's fruits each contain two follicles that are cylindrical and narrow in shape. The flower's seed-bank resides within these follicles.

Image Source:
Caranthus Roseus Seed Follicle. 2007. Protabase Record. 2007. 10 Jan. 2012.

The Flower’s Appearance:

The Rosy has the appearance of your typical garden flower. This small white, pink, or purple toned flower has a vibrant pink center that is surrounded by lush, green foliage that offers a unique sheen. This perennial shrub, bearing oval shaped leaves, is quite unique because it reaches astounding heights between two and three feet tall as the organism matures. This dicot flower, possessing five evenly spaced petals, also has seed-pods attached to its body. Similarly to the other members of its family (Apocynaceae), the Rosy Periwinkle has a milky sap that makes this species distinguishable (

The First Periwinkle Study :

In the 1950's, the original experiments with the Periwinkle species were conducted in hope of finding a cure for diabetes. However, unbeknownst to those involved in this experiment, their discovery soon triggered a revolutionary movement to find a cure for certain types of cancer that were once perceived as incurable (, 2011).

An Extraordinary Species:

There are two drugs, or natural chemicals, that can be extracted from the Rosy Periwinkle, namely Vincristine and Vinblastine. The primary use for these natural drugs is for treating children who suffer from mild to severe cases of leukemia, stomach ulcers, and even the Hodgkin’s disease. The Rosy Periwinkle is among one of the most effective natural remedies for these ailments, and can be traced to remarkable discoveries in prescription drugs around the world. Although the medical field continues to cherish the flower’s immeasurable offerings, the first expression of interest towards this species began in the 1950’s. The first examinations of the Rosy Periwinkle allowed researchers to identify the plant’s alkaloids (Vincristine and Vinblastine), which ultimately helped scientists take remarkable strides in easing cases of childhood leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and even testicular cancer. Alkaloids generally contain "carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen" (McGraw Hill, Botany Global Issues Map).

Rosy Periwinkle at Mature Growth Stage

Madagascar. 2012. World Press. 10 Jan. 2012

Above Image:

Rosy Periwinkle. 2011. National Geographics Stock. 10 Jan.

The Rosy Periwinkle's Success & Active Compounds:

The chemical Vinblastine, which is found in the flower's juices, has proven to control and stop the reoccurrence of cancerous cells that reproduce in the human body. With the application of Vincristine, physicians around the globe have reported a steady rise of childhood leukemia survivors, specifically from 10% in the 1960's to nearly 95% (, Perdue). Additionally, the flower's compound, Vinblastine, offers tremendous value to those who suffer from Hodgkin's disease. Hodgkin's disease is a form of lymphoma that commonly affects the body's organs, lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow (PubHealth Med, 2011). These two life-preserving chemicals are administered to patients by injection.

Image Below: Vincristine. 2012. 10 Jan. 2012

Side Effects of Treatment:

Vincristine Composition for Leukemia Treatment

Like those who undergo chemotherapy, the leukemia victims previously mentioned are also prone to hair loss and nausea when treated, or exposed to, the Rosy Periwinkle's chemical properties. Also, those treated with this herbal remedy may experience vertigo, seizures, and hallucinations (

Other Geographic Regions Pursuing the Benefits: Distribution

Many “folk healers” in various cultures around the world cherish the Rosy Periwinkle for its unique chemical properties. For instance, this infatuation with herbal remedies can be seen in India as local physicians extract juices from the flower for insect stings and bites. Additionally, the Hawaiian culture has utilized the Rosy Periwinkle’s juices for several decades, primarily as a topical treatment for skin wounds resulting in excessive bleeding. This remedy first began by boiling the flower, and later applying the flower’s fluid evenly across the sore or lesion. Finally, South American physicians have created oral rinses from the Rosy Periwinkle because they believe the flower’s chemical properties are extremely effective in soothing sore throats and other forms of internal chest discomfort. Similarly, other nations such as Puerto Rico and Jamaica also depend on this herbal remedy for a solution comparable to saline drops, or lubricants, for patients suffering from eye irritations. The Rosy Periwinkle's seeds were first distributed in Paris during the 1700's and then taken to Europe in an attempt to enhance the personal gardens of European inhabitants (Schmelzer, 2007).

Our Commitment to Preserve:

If the human race continues to threaten Madagascar's rainforests, the Rosy Periwinkle may become endangered in the near future. This island country is home to a diverse wildlife and other naturally grown organisms that have proven to be invaluable to the medical field. Therefore, destructive acts such as deforestation may disturb Madagascar's biodiversity.

The Apocynaceae Family:

This botanical family is comprised of shrubs, trees, and herbs and is also referred to as the "dogbane" family. The majority of these organisms, specifically trees and flowering plants, are found in dry environments in subtropic regions around the world. For instance, the rainforest is home to many of this family's members. The Apocynaceae family's well-known characteristics include milky sap, simple leaves, and the absence o
Apocynum Cannabium, North American Apocynaceae
f stipules on the plant's body (, 2011). These flowering plants typically have superior ovaries and are perfect due to their bisexual nature. Some of the most important members of the Apocynaceae family include the Apocynum, a great source of fiber from North America, and the Plumeria from Central America. The Apocynum's chemical properties have contributed to profound advancements in medicines that control heart functionality. These effective herbal remedies, called glycosides, continue to educate cardiologists around the world about the flower's benefits.

Plumeria, Central American Apocynaceae

Images Featured:
Left: Plumeria. 2010.
Hawaii Magazine. 10 Jan. 2012

Right: Apocynum Cannabium. 11 Jan. 2012

Healing Seekers - Rosy Periwinkle and the Sacred Stone (YouTube Clip)



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