Australia > All Weeds > Blue Periwinkle

Blue Periwinkle

Vinca Major

Origin: Native of central and southern Europe and northern Africa


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Image by Karagon

Alternative Name(s): Periwinkle, Vinca, Sorcerer's violet, Big leaf periwinkle, Greater periwinkle, Blue buttons

Family: Apocynaceae.

Known Hazards: Large quantities of the plant are poisonous.

Habitat: Widespread adjacent to urban areas in cooler climates. Grows best in fertile soil and well in shade

Edibility Rating: 0 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Flowers: Axillary, solitary. Flowers mostly late winter to summer.It is in leaf all year, in flower from October to December. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by spreading stems that root at nodes and sometimes at tips; lacking milky latex; leaves opposite, hairless except for short marginal fringe; flowers surrounded at base by calyx 0.9–1.7 cm long with marginal hairs; flowers blue to mauve, 3–6 cm wide, tubular with 5 spreading lobes 1.3–2.5 cm long, stamens attached to inside of tube and within tube, anthers 2-chambered; fruit produced in pairs joined at the base, membranous, cylindrical 3.5–5 cm long, about 0.4 cm wide.
Dispersal: Spreads locally mainly by stems that root at nodes. Seed is apparently rarely produced in Australia. Long distance dispersal occurs via stem fragments and crowns dispersed as garden waste or by water.

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal Uses

Astringent; Bitter; Detergent; Homeopathy; Hypotensive; Purgative; Sedative; Stomachic; Tonic; Vasodilator. The plant is astringent, bitter, detergent, sedative, stomachic and tonic. It contains the alkaloid 'vincamine', which is used by the pharmaceutical industry as a cerebral stimulant and vasodilator. It also contains 'reserpine', which reduces high blood pressure. It is used internally in the treatment of excessive menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, vaginal discharge and hardening of the arteries. It should not be given to patients with constipation. It is applied externally to vaginal discharge, nosebleed, sore throat and mouth ulcers. The plants are cut when flowering and dried for later use. The fresh flowers are gently purgative, but lose their effect on drying. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh leaves. It is used in the treatment of haemorrhages.

Other Uses

Basketry; Ground cover. The stems are used in basket making. A very good ground cover for covering steep banks and shady places, spreading rapidly once established and forming a dense cover within 2 years. It is less dense on dry or exposed sites. Plants are best spaced about 60cm apart each way.

Notes: Garden escape, widespread adjacent to urban areas in cooler climates. Mats of this species smother other ground vegetation and prevent growth of shrubs and trees. Grows best in fertile soil and well in shade.



Small shrub image by xitus
Flower detail by Wikispecies


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