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Catharanthus is a genus of flowering plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. Like genus Vinca, they are known commonly as periwinkles. There are eight species. Seven are endemic to Madagascar, though one, C. roseus, is widely naturalized around the world. The eighth species, C. pusillus, is native to India and Sri Lanka. The name Catharanthus comes from the Greek for "pure flower".
These are perennial herbs with oppositely or almost oppositely arranged leaves. Flowers are usually solitary in the leaf axils. Each has a calyx with five long, narrow lobes and a corolla with a tubular throat and five lobes.
C. roseus, known formerly as Vinca rosea, is a main source of vinca alkaloids, now sometimes called catharanthus alkaloids. There are about 130 of these compounds, including vinblastine, a common drug used to treat cancers.
C. roseus is also cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens. Several cultivars have been bred to produce flowers in many shades of pink, red, lilac, and white, or in light shades with dark throats.
- Catharanthus coriaceus Markgr.
- Catharanthus lanceus (Bojer ex A.DC.) Pichon
- Catharanthus longifolius (Pichon) Pichon
- Catharanthus ovalis Markgr.
- Catharanthus pusillus (Murray) G.Don.
- Catharanthus roseus (L.) G.Don. – Madagascar periwinkle, old-maid, rosy periwinkle, pink periwinkle
- Catharanthus scitulus (Pichon) Pichon
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- Catharanthus. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
- Catharanthus. Madagascar Catalogue. eFloras.
- Catharanthus roseus. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).
- Catharanthus pusillus. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).
- Catharanthus. The Jepson eFlora 2013.
- van Der Heijden, R., et al. (2004). The catharanthus alkaloids: pharmacognosy and biotechnology. Current Medicinal Chemistry 11(5), 607-28.
- Catharanthus roseus. Missouri Botanical Garden.
- Madagascar periwinkle (plant) at Encyclopædia Britannica
- Catharanthus at the Encyclopedia of Life
- Catharanthus at National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
- "Catharanthus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- Catharanthus at Encyclopædia Britannica
- Catharanthus at the Catalogue of Life