I want to know more about bindweed/morning glory than how to kill it.
June 1, 2009 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Resources for information about field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis, perennial morning glory) other than how to kill it?

I've become obsessed with bindweed, originally because it's overrun my backyard. (Olympia WA USA) I want to write an essay about it, probably for my website or for my neighborhood association newsletter.

I can find lots of information about its growing habits and how to (try to) eradicate it. (My working title is "Worst. Weed. Ever.")

What I've become curious about is its history: why in god's name did anybody bring it to the New World? where is it originally from? does it have any special significance in other cultures? etc.

I've used the Google, Wikipedia, and the friendly reference desk at my local library, so far to no avail. (I do have a couple of books on invasive plants on hold, and the librarian suggested that I follow the footnotes or bibliography.) Can anyone help find more resources?
posted by epersonae to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Following the links from the USDA PLANTS profile for this species might help.
posted by pemberkins at 12:39 PM on June 1, 2009

Best answer: Also, there is this article; in a restricted database, but maybe your library can get a copy? (Citation: Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis, Convolvulaceae) in North America, from Medicine to Menace, by Daniel F. Austin © 2000 Torrey Botanical Society.)
posted by pemberkins at 12:47 PM on June 1, 2009

Best answer: Here's the entry in Tropicos (and references), and in Botanicus.
posted by cog_nate at 12:53 PM on June 1, 2009

Best answer: Bindweed was originally brought over for its medicinal purposes (see page 3) as well as it's use are a flavoring for liqueurs and ornamentation. It can also be used for making twine albeit a not very long lasting one, think tying up wayward plants.

According to this site, it has also been shown to have angiogenesis inhibiting properties and is currently being studied for use with cancer patients.

Anecdotally, you can kill it by letting hogs graze where it's growing, they're known for killing root systems pretty thoroghly and a buddy of mine swears by it. Whenever he sees it on his farm, he unleashes the wrath of the hogs.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 1:33 PM on June 1, 2009

I have bindweed on one side of my yard and I found that simply "weedeating" the leaves of the front edge of the spread of the vines keeps it in check.

Also, not sure about this particular species, but there are numerous Convolvulaceae species native to the new world. All it takes is a seed in an imported animal's hoof anyway, the spread of the plant may not have been intentional at all.
posted by telstar at 3:14 PM on June 1, 2009

I'm in Seattle, and I hear you about the bindweed--but I think horsetails are far and away the contenders in the Worst. Weed. Ever. category.

Roundup will put the bindweed away, but hardly slows horsetail down. That's just...eerie.
posted by Sublimity at 9:15 PM on June 1, 2009

Sublimity, we used to have horsetail really bad in our raised bed in Seattle, but we moved to Bainbridge and don't see it at all here. Bindweed goes nuts here though.

Thread-hiijacking a little, but I thought I'd mentioned I read a similar treatment for horsetail as that mentioned for bindweed here: let the plant grow until it is six inches tall for bindweed -- I think I read 12-18 inches tall for horsetails. This is long enough for the root to expend energy on growing, but not long enough for the plant to start feeding energy back to the root. Then cut it down, and remove (I don't compost this at home because I am scared of the evil weeds). This will deplete the root and eventually it will be unable to support further plant growth. In theory. I'm not fully convinced but it's the best I've got for now.
posted by librarina at 10:38 PM on June 1, 2009

Librarina, we take that approach to the horsetail in our yard. Generally, we try to pull it before it gets green or shortly after, on the theory that if it's photosynthesizing, it's building itself back up.

Sadly we've been doing that for a few seasons now and--well, I think this spring the horsetails were diminished compared to years past, but we still sure pulled a lot of them.

We collect them in a bucket and put 'em out in the municipal yard waste collection.

I occasionally need to remind myself that these are not supernatural beings, just very well-adapted creatures, and that we move faster than they do. Usually.

Sorry for the diversion. Wish I had more answers for the original question!
posted by Sublimity at 4:45 PM on June 3, 2009

Pages on bindweeds from A Modern Herbal: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. M. Grieve, as usual, digs up some interesting facts:

"Before the introduction of the Potato into Europe, the Sweet Potato [C. Batatas, a bindweed w/a large root] was regularly imported as a wholesome article of diet, and was grown in Spain and Portugal, to which it had been brought from the West Indies. The Potato which Shakespeare mentions twice - in the Merry Wives of Windsor and in Troilus and Cressida - is the Sweet Potato, and not the more familiar tuber of our days."
posted by ryanshepard at 9:01 PM on June 3, 2009

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