Picture Profile: 1009: Rosy Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)

1009: Rosy Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)

1009: Rosy Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)

Botanical Illustration. Artist Codes: 1009-1013 SOLD. Completed between February and March 2010. Original water colours on Aquarelle Arches 100% hot pressed cotton rag paper. Unframed size 12″ x 16″.

I received the commission to paint five plants to feature in new ID signs at Marwell Wildlife’s Tropical World in November 2009. I visited the zoo to meet the commissioners and to view the plants in situ. I took resource photographs and received live material of the plants. I had to submit preliminary drawings for approval and all were accepted with only one minor alteration.

Marwell Wildlife seeks to address causes of extinction such as habitat loss and the over-exploitation of biological resources and to manage vulnerable populations of threatened species to ensure their survival. This is achieved through a range of species and habitat conservation programmes locally through Marwell’s base in southern England and internationally, with a particular focus in Africa.

Artist Code 1009: Rosy Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus). Genera: Apocynaceae Origin: Madagascar.

This small, pretty shrub contains many alkaloids, two of which, vincristine and vinblastine, are very successful in the treatment of leukaemia and other cancers. These alkaloids are present in tiny amount in the plant – just 0.00025% of the dry weight of the leaves, so it takes a huge 53 tonnes of leaves to make only 100gms of vincristine.