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With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

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Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
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..... Author unknown.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Caterpillars and Periwinkles


Periwinkles are available in many different colours and I find it difficult to resist the urge to buy them to add to my collection. I buy the seedlings from nurseries as vinca seeds are not readily available here. My plants have self seeded and now these are my second generation offsprings. I have collected the seeds and scattered them on the ground.


Scientific name: Catharanthus roseus
Common name: Madagascar Periwinkle, Vinca, Rose Periwinkle
Chinese name: 长春花 (Zhǎngchūn huā -  long lasting spring flower)
Malay name: Kamunting Cina, Bunga Tapak Dara
Family: Apocynaceae (dogbane family)
Native to: Madagascar


Some offspring look like the original parent while others come in new mixed shades. The first 3 are the original colours.

There are many emails circulating about them being poisonous plants to avoid. However, they are poisonous only when ingested but nobody would eat their leaves, flowers or other plant parts anyway.


The vinca plant is used medically as a source of vincristine in the treatment of leukaemia.

“Caterpillars and Periwinkles”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ http://www.mynicegarden.com/ on October 8th, 2010.



 This offspring seem to have a mixed parentage of pink, white and lavender. I love the red and pink hues around the centre which makes it look like a kaleidoscope heart.


I think the centre of the vinca flowers look like a button. Sometimes, I see a mouth with lips pursed into an 'O' shape.


Here's another mixed bred.
Vinca flowers have smooth, soft and delicate petals.
With proper pruning, the vinca plants can live 1-2 years before they die off.


On certain mornings, I get a surprise when I water my plants. I'm sure you know who did it!


The truth is out there!


Of course it is this guy who look like an oleander moth caterpillar. They are voracious eaters and a few of them can gobble up all the leaves before you can call it a day. This little fella flashed its faked monster eyes trying to scare me when I was photographing it. Aha, I not scared!

I often think about the butterflies or moths that they will soon turn into, so I spare them. Monsters turning into angels or destructive bugs transforming into beneficial beauties? Should I interrupt an innocent life cycle?

From experience, I know that the leaves will soon grow back. I used to remove the caterpillars or make them disappear. If I try to pull them out, they will cling more tightly to the branch, thereby increasing the chances of injury. I let them glide slowly onto a plucked vinca leave and I bring them to my 'birthing centre'.


This vinca with lavender-purple flowers is the most hardy type in my garden. It can survive frequent attacks by a few caterpillars and it will grow back its leaves. I use this plant as food for the caterpillars.

When I see signs of stem blight, I will pinched off the infected stems. I also trim off the wayward branches. The stem of this plant has grown to about almost an inch thick.

This is vinca perennial (vinca minor). It behaves like a weed here and we can commonly find them growing by the roadside. Somebody even laughed at me for growing this in my garden.


I don't know where all the caterpillars had gone to morph into a chrysalis because I have never seen any chrysalis on my vinca plants. At other places, like under the leaves of my Ti plant, on the rim of my flower pot or hanging from my pomegranate branches, I find this. Are these the chrysalis of some kind of butterfly or moth?

It is funny how a plant that is toxic to humans can be nourishing food for these creepy crawlies who after feasting on their leaves will morph into gorgeous butterflies that will help us pollinate our flowers to produce delicious fruits to satisfy many a hungry stomach. That's the beauty of nature.


My Nice Garden would like to welcome Gesine of Seepferd's Garten blog. Gesine is from Germany and a newbie blotanist. Gesine, welcome to Blotanical and thank you very much to Gesine for being my 200th follower.

This is my entry for Fertilizer Friday, the link is here.
This is also my entry for Blooming Friday, the link is here. The theme today is "USED". Well, my periwinkle is certainly "USED" when all the leaves have been eaten by the caterpillars!

35 comments:

  1. Yeah, it's hard to know whether the bang is worth the buck. those are some markings on that caterpillar though - so pretty!

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  2. Its really a wonder of nature how such unsightly creatures like the caterpillars turn into beautiful and delicate butterflies.

    Beautiful pictures of your periwinkles.

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  3. Nice collection pf periwinkle you have there Autumn Belle.

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  4. Jipiee, I´m the 200red follower!
    My dear, you have really cice pics, I´m looking forward to see more!
    Greatings from cold Berlin!
    Gesine

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  5. My mom has tons of these plants in her front yard too. These crawlies are big eaters and they are like poop machines. it makes me wonder if the poop is good to fertilize the garden. :)

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  6. Yes, these vincas become weeds in our garden too, but i really love your pure white, without a pouting lip! That larva is so cute, but do you know i am afraid to touch them. I love butterflies but afraid of larvae, i don't know what it will become as adult. That pouch is just a house of some caterpillars which i dont know also, not a pupa! Your photos get better everyday!

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  7. Hello,
    I have two varieties of Periwinkles in my garden. All in pots. Great flower to have for easy maintenance. Adds a great amount of color to the garden.

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  8. Oh, how happy I am that you joined Blooming Friday. That way I was lucky enough to find your marvellous blog!
    I will immediately link to you from my blog, if that is ok with you?
    Have a great weekend,
    Charlotta
    Cesars trädgård

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  9. Wonderful pictures. Very sweet flowers. Lena/isis

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  10. Vinca seems like a beautiful flower and you caterpillar so charming, can't end that life I sure of :)

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  11. Wonderful post about your well used Vinca Autumn Belle! Your photographs are truly beautiful. The centers of your flowers are so delicate and each so different. I love your descriptions. Hope you get to record a butterfly emerging! ;>)

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  12. I have a few varieties too n they really brighten up my small garden. That caterpillar looks monstrous n do a lot of damage to your plants!

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  13. Cool caterpillar so pretty glad you have the compassion to leave them alone..'O' lovely pixz..tQ

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  14. I've not always had good experiences with vinca... depends on the year it seems, but I do love them! L

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  15. You took very good shots of the periwinkle. I took pictures of some of mine but yours have better clarity, with details such as the nuanced texture of the petals. Shall try again after looking at yours.

    Your caterpillar looks so juicy and cute!

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  16. Vinca is my very favorite little flower...it gives so much for so little care!!! Brave girl with the camera!!!

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  17. Yor photographs made me smile...especially the caterpillar!

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  18. Beautiful blooms in your garden! I had Perinwinkle before but i removed them all after knowing it is a poisonous plant, as i have a small kid who loves to play in the garden. Btw, nice shot of the caterpilla, eerie yet so beautiful haha.
    Happy weekend to you!

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  19. Our periwinkle has a blue flower. Well, blue with some purple and quite bright. Although the plant is often considered weedy it is easy to remove what you don't want.

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  20. 'Monsters turning into angels'. What a sweet thing to say and you feed them as well :) He´s really cute I think. Yor Vincas is beautiful by the way ....
    Tjing
    Monica

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  21. Dear Autumn Belle, Your Vinca collection is so pretty. I do agree that they are such easy to please plants and reward one with a very long flowering season. Lovely.

    Have a happy weekend!

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  22. Your Vincas are very lovely, beautyful pictures! The caterpiller is cool, but I don`t love it on my flowers:)
    Have a nice weekend!

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  23. I have the hot-pink vinca's growing by my mailbox. They are annuals here and will soon be gone. How nice to have cats on them; I wouldn't mind some 'chewed' leaves, either! In fact, I've had quite a few caterpillar visitors this summer and like it when they eat my leaves;-)

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  24. I've used vinca here (Ontario, Canada)often and it is a reliable annual that can withstand heat and drought pretty well.
    I'm glad you allow nature to take its course in your garden too.

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  25. Lovely pictures. Have a nice weekend./Gela

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  26. What a great variety of colours. They are all beautiful, but I particulary love the pure white.

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  27. Autumn Belle, your photos are amazing! Periwinkles must be a constant in most gardens and your collection is lovely! I like the pouting lips too:>)And the details on the caterpillar (so cute) and the chrysalis are wonderful!

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  28. I grew Periwinkles from seed last year. I think they are very beautiful. Your caterpillar looks as if he has eaten many juicy leaves!

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  29. Your Periwinkles are so pretty - it's very exciting that they can grow in so many different shades. As for the caterpillar - it's quite pretty, I think.

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  30. The colors in those periwinkles are all so lovely and delicate looking. Wonderful shots.

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  31. very nice Periwinkles, it's funny, I have known this plant most my life but only now I know the name in english. In spanish we call them Teresitas (among other names depending on the region).
    Thank you!

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  32. Vinca's are annuals in my gardens, but one that I invite each year. Their blooms are sweet and they don't require a lot of water once they get established. Yours, may I add, are gorgeous!

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  33. Wow! you have many colourful Vinca!
    Vinca is weed? I find a hard time growing them!
    I use to buy Vinca too but often it dies on me.....I don't know why....The latest was attacked by caterpillar!

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  34. I have six of those caterpillars and they are really big.

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