Vinca major


Also known as:

Bigleaf periwinkle, large periwinkle, greater periwinkle, blue periwinkle

Family: Apocynaceae

Origin: Mediterranean

A periwinkle bush.
A difficult plant to control as the plant can stop herbicide moving to the rhizomes, then allowing it to re-sprout. Periwinkle can grow in full shade or full sun and grows very fast.
Photo credit: Su Sinclair

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Scrambling, rhizomatous perennial groundcover/vine. Stems are trailing, layering, < 2 m long and contain milky latex. Leaves are < 10 x 7 cm. Flowers are solitary, blue/violet and < 5 cm in diameter.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • you must not breed, distribute, release or sell periwinkle within the Auckland region
  • you must not plant periwinkle within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property
  • you must destroy any periwinkle on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Auckland Council will manage periwinkle in buffer areas of parks, where periwinkle is being managed, to an extent that protects the values of that parkland. If you wish to help protect your local parkland, you are encouraged to control or remove any periwinkle on your land and plant a better alternative instead.

View a map of park buffers.

To find out more about how we’re protecting Auckland’s parkland from pest plants, visit our pest plant buffer pages.


Riparian margins, alluvial flats, disturbed forest and scrubland, coastal areas, bare and rocky habitat, wasteland, roadsides.


Seed rarely set. Vegetative spread from stem layering and rhizomes, dispersed by water and soil movement. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste and movement of contaminated soil and machinery.

Impact on environment

Smothers ground vegetation, preventing native seedling regeneration. Alters erosion and flow regimes of streams. Vector for Pierce’s disease in grapes.


Site management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 200ml glyphosate green and 1g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Close up of periwinkle flowers.
Periwinkle is also known as fairy toothbrush as the flower contains a single large stamen. A scrambling vine that moves underground through the growth of rhizomes.
Photo credit: Su Sinclair
Close up of periwinkle leaves.
While periwinkle produces many flowers, it is not successful at producing many viable seeds. Plants can be spread by dumping of removed plants, or moving soil that contains rhizomes.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Periwinkle leaf tips with two flowers.
Periwinkle will cover the ground within native forest preventing the germination of native seeds. It can lead to forest die back over time as native trees cannot replenish themselves.