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Intermediate Periwinkle

Vinca difformis

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
(in flower all year round)
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Awlwort, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Charlock, Common Scurvygrass, Common Whitlowgrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Cuckooflower, Dame's-violet, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Great Yellowcress, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Rock Whitlowgrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Kale, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Radish, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, hedgerows, roadsides, woodland.

Blue, 5 petals
Pale blue or (occasionally) white solitary flowers with well spaced petals. Flowers measure about 4cm across. The flowers are paler in colour than those of the similar looking Greater Periwinkle (Vinca manjor). Lesser Periwinkle is also similar but its flowers are smaller than those of Intermediate Periwinkle.
Long, pointed seedpods.
A perennial evergreen flower with broadly lance-shaped, pointed, dark green, privet-like leaves. Mat-forming. Garden escape species.
Other Names:
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Vinca difformis, also known as periwinkle, is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. The plant has glossy, evergreen leaves and small, five-petaled blue, pink or white flowers. It typically grows as a groundcover and is often used in landscaping for its attractive foliage and flowers. Vinca difformis has been traditionally used as a medicinal herb in some cultures to treat a variety of ailments. However, all parts of the plant contain vinca alkaloids, which can be toxic if consumed in large amounts, so it's not recommended for internal use without proper medical supervision.


Periwinkle, also known as Vinca, is a beautiful and low-maintenance plant that is perfect for adding some color and life to your garden or landscape. One species of periwinkle that is particularly interesting is the Intermediate Periwinkle, Vinca difformis. This species is native to the Mediterranean region and is a great choice for gardeners looking for a hardy and easy-to-grow plant.

Physical Description

Intermediate Periwinkle is a low-growing evergreen plant that typically reaches a height of around 20cm, and can spread up to 1.5m wide. Its leaves are glossy and dark green, and it produces beautiful pale blue to lilac-colored flowers in early spring that can last up to six weeks. The flowers are approximately 3cm wide and have a characteristic central white eye. This plant also produces slender, trailing stems that can root themselves in the soil and create new plants.


Intermediate Periwinkle is a very easy plant to grow and care for. It prefers well-draining soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. It is also tolerant of a range of soil types, from sandy to clay soils. This plant can be grown in full sun or partial shade, but it is best to avoid planting it in full shade, as this can lead to leggy growth and reduced flowering.


Intermediate Periwinkle is a drought-tolerant plant that does not require frequent watering. It is important to allow the soil to dry out between watering to prevent overwatering, which can lead to root rot.


Pruning is not necessary for Intermediate Periwinkle, but it can be beneficial to remove any dead or damaged stems to encourage new growth and maintain the plant's shape. The best time to prune is in early spring before new growth begins.


Intermediate Periwinkle is easy to propagate from stem cuttings, which can be taken in early summer or early autumn. Simply take a 10-15cm cutting from a healthy stem, remove the lower leaves, and plant the cutting in well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist and the cutting in a warm, bright location until it roots and begins to produce new growth.


Intermediate Periwinkle is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of garden settings. It is great for ground cover in rock gardens, along borders, or in containers. It also works well in mass plantings or as a low hedge. The pale blue to lilac-colored flowers of Intermediate Periwinkle provide a beautiful contrast to other flowering plants, and its glossy foliage adds texture and interest to any garden.

Medicinal Properties

The periwinkle plant, including Vinca difformis, has long been used in traditional medicine for its medicinal properties. It contains alkaloids, such as vincamine and vinblastine, which have been shown to have a range of health benefits, including improving cognitive function, treating hypertension, and even as an anticancer agent. However, it's important to note that these alkaloids can be toxic if ingested in large amounts, and should not be used without proper medical guidance.

Wildlife Attraction

Intermediate Periwinkle is also attractive to wildlife, particularly bees and butterflies. The flowers provide a rich source of nectar and pollen, making it an excellent plant for attracting pollinators to your garden. In addition, the plant's dense foliage provides cover and shelter for small animals, such as ground-nesting birds.

Ground Stabilization

Due to its trailing stems that can root themselves in the soil, Intermediate Periwinkle is an excellent plant for stabilizing soil on slopes or in erosion-prone areas. The plant's dense foliage helps to hold the soil in place and prevent erosion, making it a great choice for erosion control.

Folklore and Mythology

Periwinkle has a long history of use in folklore and mythology. In some cultures, the plant was associated with love and fertility, and was used in love potions and to treat infertility. In medieval Europe, the plant was believed to have protective properties and was often planted near homes to ward off evil spirits.

Vinca difformis in particular is said to have been used by the ancient Greeks to treat a variety of ailments, including eye infections and bleeding. The plant was also associated with the goddess Aphrodite, who was said to have used it as a symbol of love and beauty.

Modern Uses

Today, Intermediate Periwinkle is still widely used in landscaping and gardening, as well as in herbal medicine. The plant's alkaloids, vincamine and vinpocetine, are used in pharmaceuticals to treat a range of conditions, including Alzheimer's disease and stroke.

In addition, Intermediate Periwinkle is also commonly used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, such as high blood pressure, asthma, and menstrual disorders. However, as with any herbal medicine, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before using it for medicinal purposes.


Intermediate Periwinkle, Vinca difformis, is a fascinating and versatile plant that offers a range of benefits, from its attractive appearance to its medicinal properties and cultural significance. Whether you're looking to add some color to your garden or explore the plant's medicinal properties, Intermediate Periwinkle is definitely worth considering. With its easy cultivation and low-maintenance requirements, it's a plant that any gardener can enjoy.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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