On the surface, Field Bindweed appears like a pretty, creeping plant that will bring a whimsical feel to your landscape. But underneath the surface, Field Bindweed is spending its energy developing a strong, web-like root system that aims to steal resources from everything around it.
Before you realize the danger, the bindweed’s hold is so strong you’ll be hard-pressed to control it, let alone eradicate it from your garden.
Read on to learn why this innocuous-looking plant is a devil in disguise when it takes root in your yard.
History of Field Bindweed
Field Bindweed is native to Eurasia. It was first documented in San Diego, California, in 1884. By 1925, the weed was named the worst in California (as well as in several other western states).
Scientists believe Field Bindweed probably made it to the United States as a contaminant in farm and garden seeds. Still, because of the plant’s pretty flowers and delicate climbing vines, it’s likely many people planted the seeds as ground cover or for ornamental reasons.
Field Bindweed Characteristics
Also known as
The scientific name of Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis, is remarkably descriptive, with “convolvulus” meaning to entwine and “arvensis” meaning fields.
This weed is also called perennial or wild morning glory, creeping jenny, bellbine, sheepbine, mall bindweed, lesser bindweed, common bindweed, and cornbind.
It is often confused with the plant Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium), but it has larger flowers and leaves.
Field Bindweed flowers have five fused petals that can be described as bell, trumpet, or funnel-shaped. They are pinkish or white and grow to about an inch in diameter.
Leaves of the Field Bindweed plant are shaped like arrowheads, with blunt or pointed lobes at their base.
The Field Bindweed’s stems grow along the ground and twine around–and through–other plants, spreading up to around 6.5 feet long.
Where to Find Field Bindweed
Field Bindweed is found throughout the United States, except in the southernmost parts of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. It can grow in various conditions, from full sun to full shade, and is drought tolerant.
You’ll find this weed in all types of environments: parks, farmlands, forests, ravines, greenbelts, and, frustratingly for homeowners and landscapers, in driveways, throughout ornamental borders, and in flower and vegetable gardens.
Why Field Bindweed is Considered a Weed
Field Bindweed is a deciduous perennial that is extremely difficult to control. Its extensive root structure can penetrate barriers, such as landscaping fabrics, and it will grow up and over plants. The seeds can lie dormant in the soil for up to 60 years!
Issues It Can Cause
This persistent, invasive weed can be very harmful to surrounding plants, stealing nutrients and, as a result, reducing crop yields. Its vine-like roots also make it difficult to harvest many crops.
How It Spreads
Field Bindweed reproduces from its roots, seeds, rhizomes, and stem fragments, sprouting buds that create new roots and shoots. It gets spread by everything from animals to water drainage to contaminated crop seed supplies.
How to Get Rid of Field Bindweed
Because Field Bindweed’s root system is so strong and wide-spreading, mechanical measures are impractical. In fact, measures such as extensive tilling can actually contribute to its spread.
If you prefer a chemical or herbicidal control method, glyphosate is the most effective option.
Glyphosate can be applied safely in orchards and vineyards if kept off tree suckers and low-hanging branches. Glyphosate should be applied to the bindweed when it actively grows in the fall. Spring application can help, though, as well, reducing the plant’s vitality and seed production.
Pre Emergent herbicides, used with mulch and tilling, may help control seedlings; however, repeated applications will be necessary.
Although it can survive and spread in the shade, it thrives in full sun. Planting shade-producing crops can help discourage the weed from setting up shop in your garden. Landscape fabrics can help if no light can reach the weed.
Sod-forming grasses and densely planted bunch grasses and legumes can serve as smother crops to combat it.
A microscopic mite (Aceria Malherbe) can be used against Field Bindweed. The mites infest the plant by forming a leaf gall, a little habitat where baby mites can grow and develop into big, strong mites that eventually try to kill the bindweed.
Initially, the leaf gall inhibits flowering and stem growth. In the winter, the mites will hang out on Field Bindweed root buds, only to reemerge in the spring and begin again. All this activity can kill the host weed.
Boiling water can also kill the weed, but it only works in areas without plants, like driveway cracks, empty vegetable beds, and vacant lots, where there aren’t any plants you want to live. Pour boiling water about 2-3 feet from where the bindweed grows to its wide-spreading root system.
Beneficial Uses of Field Bindweed
Although Field Bindweed is far more harmful than not, it has a few benefits. Tea made from Field Bindweed leaves can be used on spider bites to relieve pain and itching.
It can also be consumed to reduce heavy menstruation. Tea from the flowers can also serve as a laxative as well as a fever reducer. The roots can be consumed for emetic and laxative purposes.
Do Not be Deceived
It may seem like an innocent, even pretty natural growth in your landscape, but don’t be fooled by Field Bindweed. It may distract you with its appearance on the surface, but underground, it’s doing its best to sabotage any other living organism within reach. And it has a long reach.
Learn more about weeds that can derail your landscaping ambitions on our weeds homepage.