Medicinal Plants

Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus syn, vinca rosea)


  • Periwrinkle is a perennial tropical herb and is cultivated as an ornamental. This has been catapulted into the international limelight of modern medicine owing to utilization of vincristine series of alkaloids which can be extracted from the leaves of young plants.
  • The alkaloids have been used extensively in the pharmaceutical industry for the treatment of various types of cancer and malignant growth . ajmalicine is another type of alkaloid which can be extracted from the roots of same plants and have therapeutic value in controlling hypertension and capillary fragility.
  • These alkaloids have found use in the cardiovascular research well. International pharmaceutical companies like M/s Eli Lily, USA and even M/s CIPLA from India are know to be leading organizations in production and utilization of the alkaloids from prewinkjle.
  • India is one of the major producers and principal exporters of crude drug. Mozambque, Malaysia and Madagascar are the competitors


  • Nirmal and Dhawal are high yielding white flowered varieties which are resistant to common diseases

Climate and soils

  • This can be grown in wide variety of habitats, marginal lands with scarcity of water and nutrients and sandy/loamy soils.
  • It can be grown as rainfed crop provided there is even distribution of rain(100 cm) throughout the year.


  • This plant is amiable to vegetative propagation by root and stem cuttings and responds very well to the application of growth regulators. Direct sowing of seeds is also recommended


  • The land is prepared to fine tilth by ploughing, harrowing and planking and dressed with FYM @ 10-15 tonnes per hectare
  • seeds are sown during spring and if delayed just before monsoon. In Andhra Pradesh, it can be planted in almost throughout the year.
  • About 2.5 kg seeds are required for a line sown crop line to line distance id kept 45-60 cm. If planted through root cuttings, about 3-4 quintals roots per hectare are required


  • The crop requires 4-5 irrigations around the year. The land must not be waterlogged. First weeding is done 20-25 days after planting.
  • Thereafter, depending upon requirement, crop is weeded 2-3 times Rainfed crop is fertilized with NPK @ 80:40:40: kg per hectare, respectively. The application of nitrogen is done in split doses.
  • The crop also responds to micronutrients and particularly zinc sulpahte

Pest and diseases

  • No major pests and diseases have observed. Watterlogging is harmful for the growth of the crop and therefore good drainage is essential .

Harvesting - profits

  • The first harvest of leaves is done at 6 months and subsequent harvests at 3 months intervals.
  • Roots are harvested only once after about year or more. Roots harvested are washed under shade and dried by hot air during the rainy season.
  • Then the roots are taken to factories for extraction for extraction of alkaloids. The production of root alkaloids of ajmalicine series varies from 0.1-.2 percent.
  • Rainfed crop yields 1,500-2,000 kg of leaves and 600-700 kg roots and a net profit of more than Rs. 12,000/hactare.
  • Likewise irrigated crop yields 3,000-3,500 kg leaves and 800-1000 kg roots and a net profit of more than Rs 25,000 per hectare(considering cost of leaves Rs.10/- per kg and roots Rs.20/- kg)
  • Market fluctuations are not uncommon in periwinkle and the farmers are to keep this in mind before taking up cultivation