common periwinkle USDA PLANTS Symbol: VIMI2
U.S. Nativity: Exotic
Habit: Forbs/Herbs Vines
Vinca minor L.

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Taxonomic Rank: Magnoliopsida: Gentianales: Apocynaceae
Synonym(s): lesser periwinkle, myrtle
Native Range: Europe, W. Asia (REHD);

Common periwinkle, a common invader throughout most of the United States, is an evergreen to semi-evergreen, trailing vine that reaches up to 6.6 ft. (2 m) in length. Vines can reach a height of 6 in. (15.2 cm). The stems are slender, somewhat woody, and green in color. The opposite, glossy leaves are approximately 1 in. (2.5 cm) long and narrowly elliptical in shape. Some varieties have variegated leaf colors. Flowers are violet to blue (possibly white) in color, 1 in. (2.5 cm) wide, 5-petaled and develop in the spring. Common periwinkle invades open to shady forests often around former plantings at old homesites. It forms dense and extensive mats along forest floors that exclude native vegetation. It is native to Europe and was first introduced into North America in the 1700s as an ornamental. It is still commonly sold as an ornamental ground cover.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Selected Images from Invasive.orgView All Images at

Plant(s); in flower
Jil Swearingen, USDI National Park Service,
Additional Resolutions & Image Usage

Dan Tenaglia,,
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Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan,
Additional Resolutions & Image Usage

Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan,
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Steve Hurst, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database,
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Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia,
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Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia,
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Greene Storm, St. John's University,
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EDDMapS Distribution:
This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts and records obtained from USDA Plants Database. For more information, visit

State(s) Where Reported invasive.
Based on state level agency and organization lists of invasive plants from WeedUS database.

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U.S. National Parks where reported invasive:
Antietam National Battlefield (Maryland)
Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina)
Colonial National Historical Park (Virginia)
George Washington Memorial Parkway (Virginia)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina & Tennessee)
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (West Virginia)
Kings Mountain National Military Park (South Carolina)
Monocacy National Battlefield Park (Maryland)
National Capital Parks East (Washington, D.C.)
Rock Creek National Park (Washington, D.C.)
Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)
Stones River National Battlefield (Tennessee)

Invasive Listing Sources:
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection
Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control, 2004
Faith Campbell, 1998
Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council
Hoffman, R. & K. Kearns, Eds. 1997. Wisconsin manual of control recommendations for ecologically invasive plants. Wisconsin Dept. Natural Resources, Bureau of Endangered Resources. Madison, Wisconsin. 102pp.
Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society
Jil M. Swearingen, Survey of invasive plants occurring on National Park Service lands, 2000-2007
John Randall, The Nature Conservancy, Survey of TNC Preserves, 1995.
Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council
Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.  2003. Invasive Plant Control in Maryland. Home and Garden Information Center, Home and Garden Mimeo HG88. 4 pp.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 1994
Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2005
Native Plant Society of Oregon, 2008
New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry, 2004
North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1998
Pacific Northwest Exotic Pest Plant Council, 1998
Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust, Pennsylvania.
Reichard, Sarah. 1994.  Assessing the potential of invasiveness in woody plants introduced in North America. University of Washington Ph.D. dissertation.
Rhode Island Natural History Society,
South Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council
Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council
Virginia Invasive Plant Species List