Blue Periwinkle

(Also known as Vinca)

Vinca major

Family: Apocynaceae

Type of weed:

Flowering Months: , , , , ,

Description

Periwinkle is a vine that has a woody crown bearing runners up to 1 m long. The root system is hardy and fibrous, forming a mat 15–30 cm deep in the soil.

Leaves are large (15–60 mm long, 14–45 mm wide) with stalks and opposite. Each pair of leaves is generally at right angles to those above and below. The upper leaf surface is glossy and there are generally very short hairs along the leaf margins.

Flowers are large, 30–40 mm across and blue-purple or sometimes white, with five lobes from a basal tube 16–17 mm long. They are borne on upright stems to 50 cm long mainly in spring to summer.

Fruits (follicles) are 35–40 mm long, tapered at both ends and usually paired.

Don’t confuse with…

When there are no flowers, Vinca can look like the native Guinea Flower (Hibbertia scandens).

Dispersal

Most populations only reproduce vegetatively, but some produce viable seeds. Infestation can come from dumped garden waste.

Impact on bushland

Periwinkle covers the ground smothering all other plants and therefore impedes regeneration.

Distribution

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Alternative planting

Native plants

  • Twining Purple Pea (Hardenbergia violacea)
  • Wonga Wonga Vine (Pandorea pandorana)
  • Guinea Flower (Hibbertia scandens)
  • Dusky Coral Pea (Kennedia rubicunda)
  • Matted Bush Pea (Pultenaea pedunculata)
  • Blue Dampiera (Dampiera stricta)
  • Native Violet (Viola hederacea)
  • Creeping Boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium)
  • Old Man’s Beard (Clematis aristata)
    NB: not Clematis cultivars; these can also be environmental weeds.

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Control

  • Hand removal of very small patches (less than 1 m square) can be dug up. Follow-up treatments will be required. Stem and root fragments can re-sprout, so all plant material needs to be removed or spread out to dry off the ground.
  • Scrape and paint with herbicide. This is fiddly with this plant, but effective. Follow-up treatment is required. Use this method around native plants.
  • Spraying dense areas of Vinca can be effective if no native plants are present. Use a weak solution of herbicide with a surfactant to thoroughly wet all foliage and stems.

For more info

For key points on these techniques: