Herb: Greater Periwinkle

Latin name: Vinca major

Family: Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family)

Medicinal use of Greater Periwinkle:

The plant is astringent, bitter, detergent, sedative, stomachic and tonic. It contains the alkaloid "vincamine", which is used by the pharmaceutical industry as a cerebral stimulant and vasodilator. It also contains "reserpine", which reduces high blood pressure. It is used internally in the treatment of excessive menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, vaginal discharge and hardening of the arteries. It should not be given to patients with constipation. It is applied externally to vaginal discharge, nosebleed, sore throat and mouth ulcers. The plants are cut when flowering and dried for later use. The fresh flowers are gently purgative, but lose their effect on drying. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh leaves. It is used in the treatment of haemorrhages.

Description of the plant:


50 cm
(1 foot)

to June

Habitat of the herb:

Copses and hedgerows in S. England.

Other uses of Greater Periwinkle:

The stems are used in basket making. A very good ground cover for covering steep banks and shady places, spreading rapidly once established and forming a dense cover within 2 years. It is less dense on dry or exposed sites. Plants are best spaced about 60cm apart each way.

Propagation of the herb:

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, or in autumn. 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.

Cultivation of Greater Periwinkle:

Copses and hedgerows in S. England.

Known hazards of Vinca major:

Large quantities of the plant are poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.