Synonym(s): Vinca major var. variegata
Family: Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family)
Duration and Habit: Perennial Subshrub
Evergreen to semievergreen vines, somewhat woody, trailing or scrambling to 3 feet (1 m) long and upright to 1 foot (30 cm). Violet pinwheel-shaped flowers.
Ecological Threat: V. major forms dense stands that exclude other herbs and creates a problem in areas where it competes with native herbs. This species is a particular threat to the understory of riverine vegetation as it will spread from plant fragments carried by high flows. V. major forms dense mats which smother all native groundcover vegetation and prevent regeneration of trees and shrubs. This can have important long term consequences on streambanks, where the eventual loss of native tree and shrub cover could lead to erosion.
Biology & Spread: Floating vegetation/debris: High flood waters carry plant fragments downstream
For ornamental purposes: V. major is commonly sold as an ornamental.
Landscape/fauna "improvement": V. major is planted as an ornamental ground cover.
Other: V. major is introduced to new locations as a medicinal herb.
Garden escape/garden waste: The most common means of spread is by vegetative material being dumped in garden refuse.
On animals (local): Seed dispersal by wind has been recorded in warmer climates.
History: Introduced from Europe in 1700s. Ornamental ground cover, commonly sold and planted by gardeners
U.S. Habitat: Found around old homesite plantings and scattered in open to dense canopied forests. Form mats and extensive infestations even under forest canopies by vines rooting at nodes, with viability of seeds yet to be reported.
U.S. Nativity: Introduced to U.S.
Native Origin: Europe & W. Asia (Alfred Rehder, Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs: Hardy in North America, The MacMillan Co., New York (1967)); NatureServe Explorer
U.S. Present: AL, AR, AZ, CA, GA, ID, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MS, NC, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA
List All Observations of Vinca major reported by Citizen Scientists
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Physical: Manual removal by raising the runners with a rake, mowing them down close to the ground, or digging them out by hand.
Chemical: Removal of stolons [the trailing branch that produces new plants from buds; a runner] by hand and spot spraying active growth with 0.25% triclopyr in water or 1% glyphosate in water are effective control measures currently used. The most effective chemical controls are paraquat and Goal, which contain the active ingredient oxyflurfen. Other chemicals that have been proven effective are 2,4-D, 2,3,6-TBA, and Fenuron.
National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG). 2008. Vinca major (herb). Accessed 25 November 2008: http://www.invasivespecies.net/database/species/ecology.asp?si=487&fr=1&sts=sss.
Miller, J.H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 pp (USDA SRS).
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