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In botany, any of various plants of the genus Vinca of the dogbane family. The lesser periwinkle (V. minor), which has small lilac-blue flowers, is a dependable, trailing, evergreen perennial that is native to Europe and has become widespread over much of eastern North America. The greater periwinkle (V. major), with larger leaves and larger purplish-blue flowers, is native to continental Europe and has become naturalized in England. Alkaloids derived from the periwinkle plant have had some success in inhibiting cancer growth.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on periwinkle, visit Britannica.com.