Apocynaceae - Vinca major

What does it look like?

Periwinkle is a scrambling groundcover plant that resembles a vine.  The trailing stems can grow more than 2m long and take root where they come in contact with the soil.  Its leaves are glossy, 4-10cm long, 3-7cm wide and arranged in opposite pairs on the stem.  It produces blue-violet flowers that have 5 petals and are 4-5cm in diameter.

Periwinkle is a widespread escape from cultivation.  It grows best in moist, shady places such as waste places, riverbanks, roadsides, forest margins and shrublands.

Why is it a problem?

This species is fast-growing, tolerant of shade and moderately tolerant of dry or wet conditions.  Its creeping and layering habit allows it to form dense, long-lived stands.  It can regrow after being damaged or grazed. Susbsequently, it can dominate bare areas and outcompete native ground-cover species.

Periwinkle does not usually produce seeds but can regrow from fragments of roots and stems.

Control Methods

Physical control

  • Dig out very small sites. Dispose of plant material at a refuse transfer station or burn. Check for regrowth.
  • Smothering: use black plastic or weedmat. Cover sites as they are, or rake into big rolls and then cover (6+ months). Hand-remove surviving plants.

Herbicide control

  • Weed wipe (all year round ): 500ml glyphosate + penetrant per 1L water.
  • Spray (all year round): 200ml glyphosate (360g/l) + 1g metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg) per 10L. Avoid use within drip line of susceptible species.  Requires constant follow up. Apply twice a year, in spring and in autumn. Treatment is required for three or more years.
  • Mowing: For level, easily accessed land, mow with lawnmower on very low setting, 2-3 times a year. As it regrows, follow up by grubbing remaining roots with grubber or shovel. Dry thoroughly then leave on site to rot down. Takes 1-2 years to eradicate.

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide, PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed. 

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