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Common Periwinkle

Common periwinkle flowers are a blue-purple color and arranged in a spiral or pinwheel shape. Photo credit: WNY PRISM

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Common Name: Common periwinkle
Scientific Name: Vinca minor
Origin: Asia and Europe


Common periwinkle is an herbaceous, perennial and evergreen groundcover. The leaves are opposite, elliptic in shape and dark green, though some varieties may have variegated coloration. It produces blue-purple flowers with 5 petals that are blunt at the tip and arranged in a spiral or “pinwheel” shape.


This species prefers rich, moist soil and partial shade, and quickly forms dense mats in forested understories and edges. It often escapes cultivation and moves into adjacent natural areas.


Common periwinkle outcompetes native herbaceous species and prevents the establishment of native trees and shrubs. It does not produce food for wildlife as its leaves are toxic, and it rarely produces fruit.


Manual removal should be reserved for small populations as excessive resprouting will occur if any root fragments remain in the soil. Chemical treatment is recommended for larger infestations and can be combined with cutting or mowing. A surfactant may be added to foliar herbicide applications to improve treatment efficacy.

Regional Distribution


WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 4 – Local Control

Invasive Species Priorities – Tier Chart


This plant is predominantly used as an ornamental groundcover that can easily escape cultivation and form new infestations. It spreads primarily through rhizomes and rarely produces seed, which results in mowing being a primary driver of spread.

Native Alternatives

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens)
Canadian anemone (Anemone canadensis)
Wild ginger (Asarum canadense)

Additional Resources

Indiana Department of Natural Resources Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Fact Sheet
Invasive Species Council of British Columbia Fact Sheet