T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Vinca major (Periwinkle)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Vinca Species: V. major
Binomial name: Vinca major
Synonyms: Pervinca major var. variegata
Common names: Periwinkle, Bigleaf Periwinkle, Large Periwinkle, Greater Periwinkle and Blue Periwinkle

Vinca major is an herbaceous, perennial rhizomatous and stoloniferous flowering plant. The genus name Vinca is probably derived from the Latin word vincire, meaning bind, as the long creeping vines were used to prepare garlands. The species name major refers to the larger size in respect of the similar Vinca minor. It is a native to southern Europe and northern Africa. Vinca major is an evergreen trailing vine, spreading along the ground and rooting along the stems to form dense masses of groundcover individually 2-5 m across and scrambling up to 50-70 cm high.
The leaves are opposite, nearly orbicular at the base of the stems and lanceolate at the apex, 3-9 cm long and 2-6 cm broad, glossy dark green with a leathery texture and an entire but distinctly ciliate margin, and a hairy petiole 1-2 cm long.
The flowers are hermaphrodite, axillary and solitary, violet-purple, 3-5 cm diameter, with a five-lobed corolla. The calyx surrounding the base of the flower is 10–17 millimetres (0.39–0.67 in) long with hairy margins. The flowering period extends from early spring to autumn. In New Zealand it habitat is waste places, roadsides, banks, lowland & coastal forest, alluvial flats. It will tolerate shade and wide range of soil conditions.
Its impact on environment is similar to tradescantia in that it forms a thick carpet that smothers other plants even in shade conditions and stops regeneration of native seedlings. It is also a threat to the understory of riverine vegetation as it will spread from plant fragments carried by high flows. On the banks it forms dense stands that exclude other herbs and creates a problem in areas where it competes with native herbs. This can have important long term consequences on stream banks where the eventual loss of native tree and shrub cover could lead to erosion.




Underside of a leaf.