Category: Medicines - plant based
Introduction and description
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Vinca (Latin: vincire "to bind, fetter") is a genus of flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae, native to Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia.
The English name periwinkle is shared with the related genus Catharanthus (and also with the common seashore mollusc, Littorina littorea!).
two of the species, Vinca major and Vinca minor, are extensively cultivated as a flowering evergreen ornamental plant. Because the plants are low and spread quickly, they are often used as groundcover in garden landscapes and container gardens. Many cultivars are available, with different plant, leaf, and flower - colors, sizes, and habits.
Vinca plants are subshrubs or herbaceous, and have slender trailing stems 1–2 m (3–6 feet) long but not growing more than 20–70 cm (8-30 inches) above ground; the stems frequently take root where they touch the ground, enabling the plant to spread widely.
The leaves are opposite, simple broad lanceolate to ovate, 1–9 cm (0.25–3.5 inches) long and 0.5–6 cm (0.25–2.25 inches) broad; they are evergreen in four species, but deciduous in the herbaceous V. herbacea, which dies back to the root system in winter.
The flowers, produced through most of the year, are salverform (like those of Phlox), simple, 2.5–7 cm (1–3 inches) broad, with five usually violet (occasionally white) petals joined together at the base to form a tube. The fruit consists of a pair of divergent follicles; a dry fruit which is dehiscent along one rupture site in order to release seeds
There are at least 86 alkaloids extracted from plants in the Vinca genus. The chemotherapy agent vincristine is extracted from Vinca rosea (current name Catharanthus roseus), and is used to treat some leukemias, lymphomas, and childhood cancers
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