Periwinkle (Vinca; Ukrainian: barvinok). A trailing or woody evergreen herb of the dogbane family Apocynaceae, with shiny, dark green leaves and serrated lavender-blue or white flowers. Of its seven species, native to Europe and the Near and Far East, three grow in Ukraine—grassy periwinkle (V. herbacea; Ukrainian: barvinok travianystyi), in meadows and shrubbery of the forest-steppe and steppe zones and especially in the forests of the Crimea, widely used as a cut flower; myrtle (V. minor) in Right-Bank regions, a long-standing favorite decorative creeper among Ukrainians that also plays an important role in folklore and Easter and wedding rituals; and a cultivated garden species (V. major) that also grows wild in the Crimea. Periwinkle is a medicinal plant; in folk medicine it was believed to increase potency.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]