Common periwinkle was first introduced into North America in the 1700s as an ornamental. It is still commonly sold as an ornamental ground cover.
Vinca minor L.
Dogbane family (Apocynaceae)
Distribution and Habitat
Periwinkle has escaped cultivation and is invading natural areas throughout the eastern U.S. It inhabits open to shady sites including forests and often escapes from old homesites.
Periwinkle grows vigorously and forms dense and extensive mats along the forest floor, displacing native herbaceous and woody plant species.
Description and Biology
Plant: vine-like erect or trailing groundcover; mostly evergreen; stems slender.
Leaves: opposite, dark green, glossy, oval to lance-shaped, thick-textured; may be variegated.
Flowers, fruits and seeds: flower blue, lavender or white, about 1 in. across, five petals blunt at tip, arranged in spiral; springtime; no fruits or seeds typically.
Spreads: vegetatively through rhizomes.
Look-alikes: may be confused with several close relatives of this plant, including bigleaf periwinkle (Vinca major), imported from Europe, and Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), native only to Madagascar, both also invasive in natural areas in the mid-Atlantic and other parts of the United States; and winter creeper (Euonymus fortunei).
Prevention and Control
Periwinkle can be pulled by hand, dug up or raked up, being sure to remove underground portions. Where appropriate, mowing can be used to cut plants back but will likely have to be repeated regularly. Mowing followed soon after by application of a systemic herbicide would improve control greatly