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Vascular Plants of California
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Catharanthus roseus

Higher Taxonomy
Family: ApocynaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, shrub, tree, often vine; sap generally milky. Leaf: simple, alternate, opposite, subwhorled to whorled, entire; stipules 0 or small, finger-like. Inflorescence: axillary or terminal, cyme, generally umbel- or raceme-like, or flowers 1--2. Flower: bisexual, radial; perianth parts, especially petals, overlapped, twisted to right or left, at least in bud; sepals generally 5, fused at base, often reflexed, persistent; petals generally 5, fused in basal +- 1/2; stamens generally 5, attached to corolla tube or throat, alternate lobes, free or fused to form filament column and anther head, filament column then generally with 5 free or fused, +- elaborate appendages abaxially, pollen +- free or removed in pairs of pollinia; nectaries 0 or near ovaries, then 2 or 5[10], or in stigmatic chambers; ovaries 2, superior or +- so, free [fused]; style tips, stigmas generally fused into massive pistil head. Fruit: 1--2 follicles, (capsule), [berry, drupe]. Seed: many, often with tuft of hairs at 1 or both ends.
Genera In Family: 200--450 genera, 3000--5000 species: all continents, especially tropics, subtropical South America, southern Africa; many ornamental (including Asclepias, Hoya, Nerium, Plumeria, Stapelia); cardiac glycosides, produced by some members formerly treated in Asclepiadaceae, used as arrow poisons, in medicine to control heart function, and by various insects for defense. Note: Asclepiadaceae ("asclepiads"), although monophyletic, included in Apocynaceae because otherwise the latter is paraphyletic. Complexity of floral structure, variation in asclepiads arguably greatest among all angiosperms. Pattern of carpel fusion (carpels free in ovule-bearing region, fused above), present +- throughout Apocynaceae (in broad sense), nearly unknown in other angiosperms. Base chromosome number generally 11; abundance of latex, generally small size of chromosomes evidently have impeded cytological investigations.
eFlora Treatment Author: Thomas J. Rosatti, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: CatharanthusView Description 

Habit: Perennial herb, evergreen, +- puberulent. Leaf: opposite to subopposite. Inflorescence: flowers generally 1 in leaf axils. Flower: calyx lobes long, slender; corolla tube +- cylindric, lobes asymmetric; filaments free, attached near top of corolla tube, +- straight, unappendaged, anthers held above stigma, free from each other, stigma, each completely fertile, pollen +- free; nectaries 2, alternate ovaries, widely spaced, generally exceeding ovaries; style thread-like, stigma skirted at base. Seed: glabrous.
Species In Genus: 3--7 species: Madagascar, India; cultivated, alien, widely naturalized in tropics, subtropics. Etymology: (Greek: pure flower)
eFlora Treatment Author: Thomas J. Rosatti
Reference: Kai et al. 1997 Soil Sci Pl Nutr 43:227--235
Unabridged Reference: Taylor & Farnsworth 1975 The Catharanthus alkaloids.
Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don
Habit: Plant erect, 30--60 cm. Leaf: petiole generally < 1 cm; blade +- elliptic, base +- tapered, tip mucronate. Flower: corolla 3--5 cm wide at top, pink. Fruit: +- straight. Chromosomes: 2n=16.
Ecology: Canyons, desert springs; Elevation: < 200 m. Bioregional Distribution: SCo, D; Distribution Outside California: native to Madagascar. Flowering Time: Summer Note: Widely cultivated, naturalized in tropics, subtropics, often a waif in warm temperate; evidence of naturalization in California lacking; yields alkaloids extensively used in treatment of childhood leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, other human cancers.
Synonyms: Vinca rosea L.
Jepson eFlora Author: Thomas J. Rosatti
Reference: Kai et al. 1997 Soil Sci Pl Nutr 43:227--235
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Citation for this treatment: Thomas J. Rosatti 2012, Catharanthus roseus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 27, 2022.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2022, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 27, 2022.

No expert verified images found for Catharanthus roseus.

Geographic subdivisions for Catharanthus roseus:
SCo, D
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
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All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).