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The Symbolism Behind the Periwinkle Flower

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Aug 28, 2016

retty Periwinkle Makes A Move

Pretty Periwinkle, lovable, at my happy doorstep,

full of purple flowers, winks at me every time I pass her;

she has something to tell me in private, it's evident,

she whispered, I tried within limits, but couldn't afford to concede.

By K Balachandran


photo credit via

There’s everything to love about the Periwinkle flower, starting from its happy, bright petal shape to its stunning deep hue of blue or lavender that paints their heads.  This no-fuss plant is a sought after addition to many New England yards and can even be sometimes seen growing wild within forests or meadows.  The root system prefers an arid composition although other varieties have been known to relish in humid climates.  Currently the plant is being researched as a potential herb to treat cancer but because the flower holds a fraction of dangerous poison, it is still risky beyond using it as a decorative feature.  

Interestingly enough, periwinkles hold a large list of distinguishing meaning including both sentimental and religious symbolism.  Depending on your faith or viewpoint, these tiny blossoms can be referenced in several areas of literature and folklore and are often combined with ceremonial acts and traditions.  Here are the most popular references to the periwinkle.  


The most cited depictions of periwinkles are associated with pleasant emotional states or the experience of nostalgia.  One story that stands out is from the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau who looked upon the periwinkle as meaning “fidelity in friendship”, “warm memories” and “remembrance of things past”.  According to his memoirs scribed within “Confessions”, he was taking a walk and stumbled across a patch of blue, which instantly reminded him of his dear friend, Madame de Warens.  As he warmly recollected his time with her, he stated that every time he came across the periwinkle, her face would instantly flash within his mind.  An opposite symbolic reference regarded this flower as being a necessary ingredient to make witched brew, hence the nickname, “witches’ violet.  


Religious views also utilize the periwinkle for symbolizing “wee virgin”, “purity” and “everlasting love”.  Several churches tie the flower directly to the Virgin Mary and have even been recreated through catholic paintings and stained glass displays.  They are often also used to make crowns for brides in Europe or bouquets in weddings because of their symbolism, which honors “honesty”, “truth” and “faithfulness”.

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Flower Meanings, Periwinkle, Vinca

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