By Rob Hille (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Vinca major-Periwinkle

Family: Apocynaceae

Other names: Greater Periwinkle, Pervinca major (L.) Garsault [Invalid]

Habitat: C. and S. Europe, N. Africa. Naturalized in Britain. Copses and hedgerows in S. England.

hazardsmallLarge quantities of the plant are poisonous.

Periwinkle 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 fresh flowers are gently purgative, but lose their effect on drying. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh leaves of Periwinkle. It is used in the treatment of haemorrhages.

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Description of Periwinkle:

Vinca major, Periwinkle is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Apr to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (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.

Cultivation of Periwinkle:

A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in almost any soil but prefers those that are on the richer side. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are very shade tolerant but they do not flower so well in deep shade. They grow well under deciduous trees, and in such a situation can succeed in dry soils. Established plants are drought tolerant. A very ornamental and polymorphic plant, there are some named forms selected for their ornamental value. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. This species rarely if ever sets seed in Britain. It spreads rapidly by long trailing stems that root at their tips and leaf nodes, it can be invasive. Once it is established it will swamp out smaller plants.  Plants are best spaced about 60cm apart each way.

Propagation of Periwinkle:

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.

Collection: This herb is collected in the spring. The plants are cut when flowering and dried for later use.

Culinary uses of Periwinkle:

None known.

Periwinkle,Vinca_major_botanical Medicinal uses of Periwinkle:

Actions: Astringent

Part Used: Aerial parts.

Indications: Periwinkle is an excellent all-round astringent that maybe used internally or externally. Its main use is in the treatment of excessive menstrual flow, either during the period itself (menorrhagia) or with blood loss between periods (metrorrhagia). As with other remedies that effect the uterus, it can be used to address similar processes in the urinary system. Thus it can be used for cases hematuria. It can be used in digestive problems such as colitis or diarrhoea where it will act to reduce the loss of fluid or blood whilst toning the membranes. It may also be used in cases of nose bleedbleeding gumsmouth ulcers or sore throats. It has a questionable reputation for aiding in the treatment of diabetes.

Preparations & Dosage:

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb and let infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: take 1-2ml of the tincture three times a day.

Combinations: It will combine well with Cranesbill and Agrimony. For menstrual problems it may be used with Beth Root.

Other uses of Periwinkle:

Basketry,  ground cover,

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.

my periwinkle fairy
Esoteric uses of Periwinkle

Love within marriage, mental powers, and money. Carry to obtain grace, attract money, and protect against snakes and poison. Use in magickal workings to restore lost memory. Burn with love incense before having sex with your husband or wife. Note: Can be poisonous, use with caution.

The Chemistry:

Constituents: Indole alkaloids, tannins, reserpine