Friday, March 19, 2010

Greater Periwinkle (Vinca major)

Greater Periwinkle growing under a Fir tree.

Greater Periwinkle, Blue Periwinkle, or Big Leaf Periwinkle is not native to California and is considered an invasive plant by many regulatory agencies because of its tendency to grow in large "carpets" which exclude nearly all other plant life from growing in its vicinity. It was spread by european settlers and is from southern France and Spain as well as the Balkans. The plant loves to grow in shaded area often surrounding the shady base of a tree or stretching along a riparian (river) corridor. The flower blooms intermittently throughout the year. Unlike most plants though the flower is not the reproductive organ in California and is sterile. Instead the plant grows like a vine forming the previously mentioned carpets from its spreading root system.

The plant is most easily distinguished from other plants by the pentagon shaped cup and lack of stamen.

Commonly confused with: Fiesta Flower, Baby Blue Eyes, Morning Glory (the two bear no resembelance but are sometimes confused with each other)

Look for it: Around the trunks of trees in shady areas in thick patches.

Native Uses: The plant itself is not native, so there are no native uses.

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