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Can periwinkle be pink?

Can periwinkle be pink?

Periwinkle is a light bluish-purple or lavender color that takes its name from the flower of the same name. The periwinkle flower (Vinca minor) is known for its lovely five-petaled flowers that can be found in various shades of purple, blue, white, and occasionally pink. So while periwinkle is generally associated with a light purple-blue hue, there are some varieties of the periwinkle flower that can be pinkish in color. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the different colors periwinkle can be and discuss whether true pink periwinkle exists in nature.

The Periwinkle Flower

The periwinkle is a species of flowering plant native to Europe and Asia but also common in North America as an ornamental garden plant. There are two varieties of periwinkle flowers:

– Lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor): This is the more common periwinkle found in the wild. It has small, dark green leaves and flowers that are typically violet-blue but can sometimes be white.

– Greater periwinkle (Vinca major): This variety has larger leaves and flowers that are often blue but can be pink, red, or white as well.

The color of periwinkle flowers depends on the pH of the soil as well as genetic factors that determine how much anthocyanin pigment is produced. Anthocyanins are responsible for the blue-purple color. In more acidic soils, the flowers tend to be bluer, while in neutral or alkaline soils they become pinker or redder.

The Color Periwinkle

When we refer to the color periwinkle, we’re generally talking about a pale lavender-blue hue similar to that of the common lesser periwinkle flower. The first recorded use of “periwinkle” as a color name in English was in 1922. It’s considered a “clean” color associated with grace, elegance, and romance.

There are a few standardized variations of the periwinkle color:

– Periwinkle (Crayola): A vivid purple-blue inspired by the crayon color originally formulated in 1958.

– Periwinkle (Pantone): A lighter, subdued blue with a slight hint of purple.

– Periwinkle Blue: A pale, unsaturated blue named for the flower.

– Periwinkle Gray: A dark gray with hints of lavender-blue.

So while periwinkle as a color is generally defined as a light to mid-range blue with hints of violet, there are some pinkish hues that are also described as periwinkle.

Can Periwinkle Be Pink?

Given that there are natural varieties of periwinkle flowers that are pink, it is indeed possible for “periwinkle” to refer to shades of pink in some contexts. Here are some examples of pinkish periwinkles:

Near-White and Light Pink Periwinkle Flowers

Lesser periwinkle cultivars like ‘Alba Plena’ and ‘Clara’ have flowers that are near-white to very light pink in coloration. They may appear more pinkish in bud stage before opening into blooms. When the flowers are still tiny, they can look almost hot pink against the dark green leaves before paling as they mature.

Red-Violet Periwinkle Flowers

Some periwinkle varieties have flowers that are a vivid reddish-pink color, like ‘Raspberry Victor’ and ‘Sugar Plum’. These are likely the result of cross-breeding greater periwinkle with madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), which has rosy pink blooms. The red-violet flowers sit between pink and purple on the color wheel.

“Pink Periwinkle” Paint and Fabric Colors

Several brands of paint and fabric use the name “Pink Periwinkle” to refer to shades of lavender-pink. These are not pure pink but rather have strong blue undertones that give them a soft, feminine quality referring back to the flower, like this Glidden pink periwinkle paint.

Periwinkle Eyes

Some people have eyes that are a grayish-blue with a subtle pinkish tinge, likely caused by an irregular density of melanin. These eyes are sometimes referred to as periwinkle eyes, reflecting how they straddle the line between blue, gray, and pink. The pinkish sheen makes them distinct from average blue or blue-gray eyes.

Distinguishing Features of Pink Periwinkle

While shades of pinkish periwinkle certainly exist in nature and manmade applications, there are a few key features that set them apart from true pink:

Pink Periwinkle True Pink
Has subtle blue undertones No blue tones, only red/white mix
Lavender-pink to pale purplish-pink Vivid to pale magenta
Often described as “lilac” or “mauve” Never lilac or mauve
Named for resemblance to periwinkle flowers No association with periwinkle flower

So in summary, while certain periwinkle flowers, fabric swatches, paints, and even eyes can present in pinkish hues, they aren’t a true, saturated pink lacking any hint of blue. The undertones and occasional purple tinge help distinguish pink periwinkle from pure pink on the color spectrum.

Examples of True Pink Periwinkle

To give a better idea of what pink periwinkle looks like compared to pure pink shades, here are some examples from nature and culture:

Pink Periwinkle Flowers

Light pink periwinkle flowers White and pink periwinkle flowers

These periwinkle flower specimens show how the pink shades are very light and subtle rather than being vividly pink.

Pink Periwinkle Paint

Glidden pink periwinkle paint Behr pink periwinkle paint

Commercial pink periwinkle paint colors have a misty, ethereal quality. They are clearly distinguished from bold pinks.

Pink Periwinkle Clothing

Pink periwinkle dress Pink periwinkle top

Fabrics dyed in pink periwinkle shades pick up the soft floral associations with the color. They skew light purple rather than being true pink.

True Pink Examples

Here are some examples of unmistakably pink items that demonstrate the difference between pink periwinkle and pink:

Pink roses Pink dress
Pink paint Pink shoes

These true pinks lack any hint of purple or blue undertones. They are pure shades of pink spanning from pale to neon bright.


In summary, while shades of light pinkish-purple can be described as “pink periwinkle” in some contexts, they contain subtle blue tones that distinguish them from pure, vivid pink. True periwinkle without pink influence is defined as a light purplish-blue, so pink periwinkle sits in an intermediate space between the two colors. Names matter when distinguishing color shades, and pink periwinkle evokes the soft purple-pink flowers rather than suggesting a vibrant magenta. So both pink and blue play a role in defining pink periwinkle as distinct from pink itself. When identifying color accurately, small differences in hue and saturation make a big impact.