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Vinca minor - L.

Common Name Lesser Periwinkle, Flower of Death, English Holly, Creeping Myrtle, Creeping Vinca, Common Periwink
Family Apocynaceae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards Large quantities of the plant are poisonous[19, 65].
Habitats Fields, woodland edges, copses and hedgerows[7, 13, 17]. Ash and oak-hornbeam woods on better soils in central Europe[17].
Range Europe, possibly also including Britain, from Denmark south and east to Spain and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Vinca minor Lesser Periwinkle, Flower of Death, English Holly,  Creeping Myrtle, Creeping Vinca, Common Periwink

Vinca minor Lesser Periwinkle, Flower of Death, English Holly,  Creeping Myrtle, Creeping Vinca, Common Periwink


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Bloom Color: Blue, Lavender, Purple, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Prostrate, Spreading or horizontal, Variable spread.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Vinca minor is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to May. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Pervinca heterophyla. Pervinca minor. Pervinca procumbens. Vinca acutiflora . Vinca ellipticifolia.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Ground Cover; Hedgerow;

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antispasmodic  Astringent  Bitter  Detergent  Homeopathy  Hypotensive  Sedative  Stomachic  

The plant is sedative and tonic[21, 53, 165]. It contains the alkaloid 'vincamine', which is used by the pharmaceutical industry as a cerebral stimulant and vasodilator[238]. Since the discovery of vincamine in the leaves, the plant has been used herbally to treat arteriosclerosis and for dementia due to insufficient blood supply to the brain[254]. The leaves are bitter, detergent and stomachic[7]. Taken internally, they are used in the treatment of internal bleeding, heavy menstrual bleeding and nosebleeds[254]. When crushed and applied to wounds they have astringent and healing properties[7]. A mouthwash is used to treat gingivitis, sore throats and mouth ulcers[254]. The leaves are gathered in the spring and dried for later use[7]. The root is antispasmodic and hypotensive[7, 19]. It is used to lower the blood pressure[19]. The root is gathered in the autumn and dried for later use[7]. 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].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


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].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Ground cover

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Erosion control, Ground cover, Massing, Specimen. A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in almost any soil[200] but prefers those that are on the richer side[17]. It grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are very shade tolerant but they do not flower so well in deep shade[11, 28, 31]. It grows well under deciduous trees[187], and in such a position it 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 and rooting stems once it is established and will swamp out smaller plants[4]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Naturalizing, Attractive flowers or blooms.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

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].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Vinca majorGreater Periwinkle, Bigleaf periwinkle, Myrtle, Large Periwinkle, Big PeriwinkleShrub0.5 7-9 MLMHFSNDM033

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Brenda Kelley   Mon May 2 00:46:37 2005

Vincristine, developed following the discovery of its antitumor usefulness in 1959, is a chemotherapy made from the Vinca or Periwinkle plant and is an alkyloid that targets a specific phase of cancer cells' lifespan, the S phase or cell division.

Link: Medline Plus - Vincristine The Nat'l Institute of Health's description of Vincristine, made from Vinca

Carrol B McCarthy   Fri May 19 2006

I am looking for a preemergent that is safe with vinca minor. I am being overrun with annual seeded weeds, but I do not want to inhibit the spread of the vinca. Of course the weeds seeme to do best when intertwined with the vinca, making pulling difficult.

Lawler Barnes   Sun May 31 2009

Nature Abhors a Garden Nature abhors a Garden for 12/21/08 discusses the relationship between the fact that vinca does not produce seed in the north and its use as a symbol for dangerous sexuality.

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