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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 982412, 19 pages
Review Article

Ornamental Exterior versus Therapeutic Interior of Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus): The Two Faces of a Versatile Herb

1Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), 43400 Serdang, Selangor DE, Malaysia
2Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), 43400 Serdang, Selangor DE, Malaysia
3School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science Engineering & Built Environment, Deakin University, Melbourne, VIC 3220, Australia
4Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), 43400 Serdang, Selangor DE, Malaysia
5Institute of Bioscience, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), 43400 Serdang, Selangor DE, Malaysia

Received 3 July 2014; Accepted 29 September 2014

Academic Editor: Da C. Hao

Copyright © 2015 Naghmeh Nejat et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Catharanthus roseus (L.) known as Madagascar periwinkle (MP) is a legendary medicinal plant mostly because of possessing two invaluable antitumor terpenoid indole alkaloids (TIAs), vincristine and vinblastine. The plant has also high aesthetic value as an evergreen ornamental that yields prolific blooms of splendid colors. The plant possesses yet another unique characteristic as an amiable experimental host for the maintenance of the smallest bacteria found on earth, the phytoplasmas and spiroplasmas, and serves as a model for their study. Botanical information with respect to synonyms, vernacular names, cultivars, floral morphology, and reproduction adds to understanding of the plant while the geography and ecology of periwinkle illustrate the organism’s ubiquity. Good agronomic practices ensure generous propagation of healthy plants that serve as a source of bioactive compounds and multitudinous horticultural applications. The correlation between genetic diversity, variants, and TIA production exists. MP is afflicted with a whole range of diseases that have to be properly managed. The ethnobotanical significance of MP is exemplified by its international usage as a traditional remedy for abundant ailments and not only for cancer. TIAs are present only in micro quantities in the plant and are highly poisonous per se rendering a challenge for researchers to increase yield and reduce toxicity.