Vinca major

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  • Sprawling ground cover, arching stems that root at the tips.
  • Leaves oval with pointed tip, 2 1/2 in., arraigned in opposite pairs on stem.
  • Solitary flowers purple to bluish, 1 to 2 in.

Identification key in: Hickman, J. ed. 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.

Growth and spread

  • Does not reproduce by seed in the wild in California.
  • Spreads rapidly by runners in ideal conditions.

Habitat and local distribution

  • Native to Europe. Grows in shaded damp woodland areas, often along streams, and disturbed areas (Hickman 1993; Danielsen et al. 2003).


  • Sprawling growth encroaches on native plants.
  • Dense root masses exclude native herbs and other plants.

Prevention and Control


  • Plant natives or spread native seed in disturbed areas.

Manual or mechanical control

(Wright 1996)

  • Pulling by hand.
  • Solarization—cutting plants and covering with plastic.

Biological control

  • Biological control agents—None known at this time (Bean and Russo 2003).

Chemical control

  • Application of herbicides—foliar application of 2 % glyphosate (as Roundup®) during the spring was used with success in a removal study conducted by the Golden Gate National Park Conservancy (Wright 1996).
  • Estimated costs: costs for materials and application by a contractor are approximately $250 per acre for glyphosate, depending on size of treatment area, scale of treatment, and herbicide dosage. It is recommended to contract a licensed professional for herbicide applications (Gibbons et al. 1999).

References and more information

Bean, C. and M.J. Russo 2003. Element Stewardship Abstract for Vinca Major, periwinkle. The Nature Conservancy, Wildland Invasive Species Team. Arlington, VA. Available at

Danielsen, C. W., R. McClure, E. Leong, M. Kelley, and C. Rice. 2003. Vegetation Management Almanac for the East Bay Hills. Hills Emergency Forum, a consortium of eight local governments. Available from East Bay Regional Parks, Environmental Education Center, Tilden Park. (510) 528-6619.

Gibbons, M.V., M.G. Rosenkranz, H.L. Gibbons, Jr., and M.D. Sytsma. 1999. Guide for Developing Integrated Aquatic Vegetation Management in Oregon. Center for Lakes and Reservoirs, Portland State University, Portland, OR.

Hickman, J. ed. 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.

Wright, Robert. 1996. Preliminary Results form a Vinca Major Removal Experiment. Proceedings from the 1996 California Exotic Pest Plant Council Symposium.

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