Skip to main content
You are here
Facebook icon
Pinterest icon
Twitter icon

Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle)

Madagascar periwinkle is a popular ornamental plant found in gardens and homes across the world, and is used in the treatment of cancer.
Catharanthus roseus

Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Catharanthus roseus (L.) G.Don

Common name: 

Madagascar periwinkle, rosy periwinkle

Conservation status: 

Not yet assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria.


On sand and limestone soils in woodland, forest, grassland, and disturbed areas.

Key Uses: 

Medicinal, ornamental.

Known hazards: 

As with other members of the Apocynaceae family, the sap is extremely toxic.


Genus: Catharanthus

About this species

Madagascar periwinkle is a popular ornamental plant found in gardens and homes across the warmer parts of the world. It is also known as the source of chemical compounds used in the treatment of cancer. Their discovery led to one of the most important medical breakthroughs of the twentieth century.

The flowers are adapted to pollination by a long-tongued insect, such as a moth or butterfly. This species is also able to self-pollinate. Self-compatibility and a relatively high tolerance to disturbance have enabled the plant to spread from cultivation and to become naturalised in many parts of the world. As a consequence, Madagascar periwinkle is sometimes considered to be an invasive weed, although it does not normally proliferate sufficiently to eliminate native vegetation. Its seeds have been seen to be distributed by ants.


main info

Help us solve a 2,000 year-old mystery

Aloe vera in Kew's Princess of Wales Conservatory

Find out how you can help Kew scientists unlock the benefits of Aloe vera.

State of the World’s Plants report – out now

Pantanal in Brazil

Kew has launched a ground-breaking new report highlighting the global status of plants.