Catharanthus roseus: Vinca rosea

Family: Apocynaceae
Common name: Vinca Rosea, Periwinkle, Graveyard plant, Bright eyes, Old maid, Pink periwinkle, Rose periwinkle

A common flower in Indian gardens, Vinca grows well in the wild too. Vinca plants grow to a height of about 1 meter with a good bushy spread. They are quite hardly and blooms throughout the year making it a garden favorite.

The most commonly seen flower color is light violet, but other variants like white, pink, deep pink, orange, peach, red and multi-colored are all equally beautiful. Good sunlight, adequate water and occasional nourishment is all they need to keep flowering throughout the year.

The leaves are oblong and glossy with a distinct mid-vein. Flowers have five distinct petals which are sometimes slightly overlapping. Most variants have a differently colored center and that’s what makes these flowers exceptionally beautiful. Vinca plants also produce fruits that are about 2-4 cms long, but it’s not very commonly seen.

Common variants include Albus with white flowers, Grape cooler with rose-pink flowers, Peppermint Cooler with white and red flowers, and the Ocellatus Group with multi-colored flowers.

Vinca Rosea plants have many medicinal properties, and is used in treatment of diabetes, malaria and lymphoma. Though the plant is considered poisonous, 2 important chemicals Catharanthine and Vindoline present in the Vinca plants are used in treatment of cancer.

Propagation is through stem cuttings.

Photo Courtesy: Rajeev Nair,