Field Bindweed

Writing about dodder, a member of the morning glory family,  in my most recent post reminded me that there is another member of that family that I never wrote about before. Time to correct that omission.

Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) looks like a morning glory and is often called a wild morning glory. Introduced from Europe, field bindweed now grows wild over most of temperate North America. To the casual observer it is a pretty wildflower, especially when it forms mats or carpets of flowers. However, growers consider field bindweed a noxious weed when it infests fields and orchards, choking or contaminating agricultural crops. With its remarkable ability to adapt to different environmental conditions,  field bindweed will grow in many different types of disturbed areas and waste places.

Once field bindweed establishes itself it is extremely difficult to eradicate. The plant has an extensive root system going down ten feet or more as well as underground stems (rhizomes) that can also be several feet long. If the rhizomes are detached from the plant, for example by plowing or using other mechanical means for control, they will make new plants. The abundantly produced seeds are viable for fifty years adding to the problem.

Field bindweed leaves are dull green, arrowhead shaped and occasionally display a bloom (white powdery surface). The paler green veins are depressed on the upper surface and outstanding on the underside. The leaves are alternately attached to the prostrate, slender, long (up to five feet in length), twining stems. Depending on the soil fertility and moisture field bindweed leaves vary greatly in size and shape.

The funnel shaped flowers of field bindweed are white to light pink in color and are borne on slender stalks in the leaf axes. The petals are wholly fused, twisted in the bud and pleated in the open flower. A characteristic separating C. arvensis from other wild morning glory species are the two small bracts located on the stalk about an inch below the bloom.

Field bindweed has no common culinary or medicinal uses. It is considered a laxative and because of this trait can cause mild distress if eaten by hogs.

These field bindweed plants are growing along Lower Hat Creek in Shasta County. However, at this time of the year field bindweed is not difficult to locate in our area (Northeastern California).

Field bindweed is colloquially also known as cornbind, creeping Jenny and greenvine, among many other names.

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