Periwinkle

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Periwinkle

(Vinca minor)

ID:

In an appropriate location, periwinkle is an attractive low-lying ground cover, with small dark green evergreen leaves and pretty pale blue flowers in spring. It tolerates shade and spreads slowly .

  Mass of Vinca minorVinca minor flower

Photos: John Oyston

Introduction:

It was introduced to North America from Europe in the 1700s.

Problem:

Common periwinkle poses a threat to native plants and communities because it grows vigorously, forming a dense evergreen groundcover that displaces and excludes most other plants, including native wildflowers. It spreads vegatatively in the immmedaite area, and is not spread by seeds.

The US Department of Agriculture Forest Service nominated periwinkle as a "Weed of the Week" and reported that it is invasive in the following American States:  CA, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN,KY, MD, MI, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, and WV. In Canada it is mainly a concern if planted in rural properties where it has the opportunity to spread into woodlands.

Control:

Periwinkle can be removed by digging, raising the runners with a rake, and mowing the plants. All of the plant must be removed. It can also be controlled by cutting the plants in the spring followed by applying a herbicide to the regrowth.  

Availability and Alternatives:

Widely available, including some variagated cultivars.

The US Invasive Plant Atlas Web site recommends many native alternatives, including

 
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)
Clinopodium douglasii (yerba buena)
Eurybia divaricata (white wood aster)
Euonymus obovatus (running strawberry bush)
Gelsemium sempervirens (evening trumpetflower)
Mahonia repens (creeping barberry)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Nemophila phacelioides (largeflower baby blue eyes)
Paxistima myrsinites (Oregon boxleaf)
Packera obovata (roundleaf ragwort)
Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny-spurge)
Ruellia nudiflora (violet wild petunia)
Symphoricarpos mollis (creeping snowberry)
Vaccinium crassifolium (creeping blueberry)
Vaccinium elliottii (Elliott's blueberry)
Waldsteinia fragarioides (Appalachian barren strawberry)