Greater Periwinkle (Vinca major)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Greater Periwinkle
Vinca major
Apocynaceae

The stems are used in basket making[7].

A very good ground cover for covering steep banks and shady places, spreading rapidly once established and forming a dense cover within 2 years[11, 28, 31, 190, 200]. It is less dense on dry or exposed sites[197]. Plants are best spaced about 60cm apart each way[208].

  • Medicinal Use

    The plant is astringent, bitter, detergent, sedative, stomachic and tonic[4, 7, 21, 53, 165, 238]. It contains the alkaloid ‘vincamine’, which is used by the pharmaceutical industry as a cerebral stimulant and vasodilator[238]. It also contains ‘reserpine’, which reduces high blood pressure[238]. It is used internally in the treatment of excessive menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, vaginal discharge and hardening of the arteries[238]. It should not be given to patients with constipation[238]. It is applied externally to vaginal discharge, nosebleed, sore throat and mouth ulcers[238]. The plants are cut when flowering and dried for later use[238].

    The fresh flowers are gently purgative, but lose their effect on drying[4].

    A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh leaves[4]. It is used in the treatment of haemorrhages[4].

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    Large quantities of the plant are poisonous[19, 65].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if possible. Sow stored seed in late winter in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring just before active growth commences[78], or in autumn[1]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring. Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, 5 – 10 cm long, October in a cold frame. Roots quickly. High percentage[78].
A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in almost any soil[200] but prefers those that are on the richer side[17]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are very shade tolerant but they do not flower so well in deep shade[11, 28, 31]. They grow well under deciduous trees[187], and in such a situation can succeed in dry soils[190]. Established plants are drought tolerant[190]. A very ornamental[1] and polymorphic plant[200], there are some named forms selected for their ornamental value[187]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[233]. This species rarely if ever sets seed in Britain[4]. It spreads rapidly by long trailing stems that root at their tips and leaf nodes, it can be invasive[4, 238]. Once it is established it will swamp out smaller plants[4].
C. and S. Europe, N. Africa. Naturalized in Britain.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.