Appearance"Vinca major" is an evergreen trailing vine, spreading along the ground and rooting along the stems to form dense masses of groundcover individually 2-5 m across and scrambling up to 50-70 cm high.
The leaves are opposite, nearly orbicular at the base of the stems and lanceolate at the apex, 3-9 cm long and 2-6 cm broad, glossy dark green with a leathery texture and an entire but distinctly ciliate margin, and a hairy petiole 1-2 cm long.
The flowers are hermaphrodite, axillary and solitary, violet-purple, 3-5 cm diameter, with a five-lobed corolla. The calyx surrounding the base of the flower is 10–17 millimetres long with hairy margins. The flowering period extends from early spring to autumn.
NamingThe genus name probably derives from the Latin word "vincire", meaning "bind", as the long creeping vines were used to prepare garlands. The species name "major" refers to the larger size in respect of the similar "Vinca minor" L.There are two subspecies, with geographically separate ranges:
⤷ "Vinca major" subsp. "major". Leaf petioles finely hairy, hairs short. Southern Europe.
⤷ "Vinca major" subsp. "hirsuta" Stearn. Leaf petioles densely hairy, hairs longer; petals much narrower. Caucasus, northeastern Turkey.
The closely related species "Vinca minor" is similar but smaller, with narrower, hairless leaves."Vinca major" is an invasive species in temperate parts of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. It is especially a common noxious weed 'smothering' native plants and diversity in riparian area and oak woodland habitats of coastal California.
DistributionThis species native to southern Europe and northern Africa is distributed from Spain and southern France east to the western Balkans, and also in northeastern Turkey and the western Caucasus.
Habitat"Vinca major" prefers moist undergrowth, woodlands, hedgerows and banks along the rivers at an altitude of 0–800 metres above sea level. It grows well in full sun and in deep shade.
Uses"Vinca major" is a commonly grown ornamental plant in temperate gardens for its evergreen foliage, spring flowers, and groundcover or vine use.
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