Vinca major L. - Periwinkle

Vinca major plant

Family - Apocynaceae

Stems - Vining to climbing or twining, herbaceous, glabrous or with sparse hairs near nodes, to +2m long, often rooting at nodes.

Leaves - Opposite, petiolate. Petioles to +1cm long, with sparse cilia on margins near blade. Blades to 6cm long, +4.5cm broad, ovate, entire, deep green above, dull green below, acute at apex, somewhat truncate to cordate at base, pubescent on veins above, glabrous below. Margins ciliate.

Inflorescence - Single axillary flowers. Peduncles typically shorter than leaves, to +4cm long, 1.1mm in diameter, glabrous.

Flowers - Corolla to 5cm broad, slaverform. Corolla tube to +/-1.5cm long, contracted near base, glabrous, 5-lobed. Lobes spreading, to 2cm long, 1.8cm broad, purple with white at base, glabrous, truncate at apex. Stamens 5, adnate to corolla tube, included. Anthers converging, with expanded connective that covers the stigma. Style 1, included. Ovary 2-carpellate. Calyx tube to 2mm long and broad, 5-lobed. Lobes linear-attenuate, to 1.5cm long, 1.1mm broad at base, ciliate-margined. Follicles 2, fused, to 5cm long.

Vinca major flower

Vinca major calyxCalyx.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Cultivated.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Other info. - When speaking of this plant is very important that everyone is using scientific name to prevent confusion. The name Vinca is, unfortunately, used by some folks as a name for another member of the Apocynaceae, Catharanthus roseus. The term "Periwinkle" is often used to name both Vinca and Catharanthus. To make matters worse there is another species of Vinca, Vinca minor, which also grows in Missouri. If there were ever a better argument for using only scientific names, I do not know it.
V. major is not as common in this state as the closely related V. minor. The two plants are nearly identical except for leaf shape and flower size.

Photographs near King, NC., 3-22-03.


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