Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar Periwinkle)

Scientific Name

Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don

Common Names

Madagascar Periwinkle, Periwinkle, Rosy Periwinkle, Teresita, Annual Vinca


Vinca rosea (basionym), Ammocallis rosea, Catharanthus roseus var. roseus, Hottonia littoralis, Lachnea rosea, Lochnera rosea, Pervinca rosea, Vinca gulielmi-waldemarii, Vinca speciosa

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Catharanthus


Color: White to dark pink with a darker red center
Bloom Time: From summer to frost


Catharanthus roseus is an evergreen subshrub or herbaceous plant that grows up to 3.3 feet (1 m) tall. The leaves are oval to oblong, up to 3.6 inches (9 cm) long and up to 2 inches (3.5 cm) wide, glossy green, hairless, with a pale midrib and a short petiole up to 0.7 inches (1.8 cm) long. They are arranged in opposite pairs. The flowers are white to dark pink with a darker red center, with a basal tube up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) long and a corolla up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter with five petal-like lobes. The fruit is a pair of follicles up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long.

Catharanthus roseus - Madagascar Periwinkle
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How to Grow and Care

Madagascar Periwinkle is native to Madagascar but is cultivated and naturalized in most of the tropical world and warmer climates in the United States. It can be found in a variety of woodland, forest, and grassland locales, but one of its primary uses is a bedding plant in highway medians or commercial landscapes. Madagascar Periwinkle also makes a striking clumping plant for home gardens as ground cover, in beddings or edgings, or containers.

Unlike many other plants, Madagascar Periwinkle is best suited for poor, well-drained soil and may even fail to thrive in soils that are too fertile. These plants need regular moisture but don't do well with overhead watering. Madagascar Periwinkle is easily propagated with semi-ripe cuttings planted in light compost with bottom heat and high humidity, or by seeds kept in the dark at 71 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 25 degrees Celsius) until germination. The leaves may curl during the heat of the day but recover with evening dew. The flowers drop off after blooming and don't require deadheading. See more at How to Grow and Care for Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus).


Native to Madagascar, but grown elsewhere as an ornamental and medicinal plant. It is a source of the drugs vincristine and vinblastine, used to treat cancer.


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