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Field Bindweed

Convolvulus arvensis

  • Name also: Wild Morning Glory, Creeping Jenny, European Bindweed
  • Family: Bindweed Family – Convolvulaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: Stem 30–80 cm (12–30 in.) long, limp–twining.
  • Flower: Corolla widely funnel-shaped, white or pink, outside red-striped, 1–2.5 cm (0.4–1 in.) wide, fused, slightly crinkled, very shallowly 5-lobed. Calyx 5-lobed, with small bracts halfway along flower-stalk. Stamens 5. Pistil of 2 fused carpels. Flowers axillary, in groups of 1–3.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked. Blade long–almost linear, hastate-based, with entire margins, sparsely haired. Basal lobes sharp-tipped and often arching outwards.
  • Fruit: Capsule.
  • Habitat: Yards, gardens, waste ground, banks, roadsides, harbours, embankments.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

Field bindweed has spread with people to almost every corner of the globe. Despite its pretty flower it is one of the world’s most despised weeds: its rhizomes reach down deep and spread out far and wide, and every piece of root produces new runners with astonishing vigour. It is almost impossible to eradicate by weeding, and ploughing and harrowing don’t help. Pesticides are unable to reach the end of its roots 3 metres (10 feet) below the surface. Field bindweed has survived well in Finland in old urban areas, garrisons and beside railway tracks – often growing in the same place for centuries. Usually it arrived in Finland with Russian cattle feed or grain, and stands sometimes grow around garden centres as weeds. In Finland, at the northern limit of the species’ habitat, it doesn’t grow as a pernicious weed but rather behaves itself on meadows and banks.

Field bindweed is apt to choke the vegetation around it, and the most fragile plants are in danger of being smothered altogether under its weight. If suitable support is not around it spreads along the ground. The flowers are tightly curled in buds. The outermost petals are fused to protect the emerging flower. Field bindweed also shields its open flowers from the rain by closing them quickly in cloudy weather. The corollas are open for a short time only in the mid-day sun.

Larger bindweed (Calystegia sepium) is slightly more common than field bindweed in Finland. Its flowers are large (3–5 cm (1.2–2 in.)) and its often cordate leaf blade usually has a sagittate base.

Other species from the same family

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