Convolvulus arvensis (Bindweed)

In the Convolvulaceae or morning glory family and native to Europe and Asia, bindweed grows in disturbed areas and farmlands twisting around crop plants with viney appendages. With arrow-shaped leaves and white to pink flowers, this plant’s twirling vines seem to be either hugging or strangling what is in their growth path. In Gaelic, bindweed is called iadh lus, meaning ‘the plant that surrounds’. And greater bindweed in Gaelic is called something like, ‘the plant that creeps and holds by twining’. Bindweed’s primary pollinator is the Convolvulus hawk moth (Spingidae) which is nocturnal. Hawk moths, also called hummingbird moths, have long proboscis, and thus feed well on tubular flowers like the tobacco plant. They pollinate many endangered plants, and some travel long distances across the sea within island chains like Puerto Rico.

A perennial rhizomatic forb, whose seeds remain viable for 60 years, bindweed also reproduce from buds on the roots. The deep tap root can grow 20 feet down, loosening compacted soils, and is a dynamic nutrient accumulator, bringing nutrients up to the top layer, which benefits the soil and other plants. Cows like to eat bindweed, and the plant is 16% protein, which helps cows gain weight. It is a nitrate accumulator, though is toxic to smooth muscles in high amounts. In the language of flowers, morning glory symbolizes affection and the seeds have psychedelic effects, with a similar molecular structure to LSD. According to Sloan Kettering, bindweed shrinks tumours and provides treatment for cancer by preventing new blood vessel growth.

Elizabeth Oriel 2022