Bindweeds and Dodders in the Convolvulaceae Family

The whitish rhizomes and growing shoots of Hedge Bindweed.[/caption]

This week I would like to talk about a menace known as Common or Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) as it is fresh in my mind!

Calystegia sepium is a plant with showy white flowers. However, because of its quick growth, clinging vines and broad leaves, it can overwhelm and pull down cultivated plants including shrubs and small trees. Its aggressive self-seeding (seeds can remain viable as long as 30 years) and the success of its creeping rhizomes (they can be as long as 3 to 4 metre) cause it to be a persistent weed and have led to its classification as a noxious weed. (from Wikipedia)

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On my allotment I have a substantial heap of rotting leaf-mould which was ‘invaded’ by the white rhizomes of this rather attractive, white flowering, climbing plant! It took me hours to sieve through and get all the bits out as well as I could and as they are brittle, small pieces might have remained which could regrow if given half a chance. On the positive side, it was very satisfying and therapeutic work on a bright November day in Walsall.

The Bindweeds are in the Convolvulaceae or Bindweed family, which is number 108 in Stace. The family has 4 genera growing in the British Isles namely, Convolvulus,  Calystegia, Ipomoea (introduced ornamental climbers from N. America) and finally Cuscuta  or Dodder, which is a fascinating parasitic plant with thin twining stems attached to other plants by absorptive pads; leaves small, scale like; flowers many in small globose heads. (St. 570).

In The Medicinal Flora by J. Barker there is a nice account of this family.

The Common dodder, Devil’s Guts or Cuscuta epithymum has the following medicinal uses:        Chronic constipation (especially with flatulence and atonic dyspepsia), its action is as a laxative (yet astringent) as well as a carminative and cholagogue. 

Calystegia sepium is also a laxative but without producing nausea and griping as well as a (anti-bilious) cholagogue.

The Bindweeds, which are seen mainly as a weed, are the small flowered Field Bindweed or Convolvulus arvensis and Calystegia sepium or Hedge Bindweed.

There are several other species, subspecies and hybrids of Calystegia growing in the British Isles but C. sepium is the best known one.


One Reply to “Bindweeds and Dodders in the Convolvulaceae Family”

  1. Hi Yoke,

    Well, at least the Calystegias have the decency to have white rhizomes, fairly easily spotted and removed in the winter dig. Apart from setting seed and growing from rhizome fragments, I strongly suspect that if the tip of a green shoot gets buried, it will develop into a rhizome.
    Despite relentless persecution for over 30 years, I have both C. sepium and the escape from cultivation C. silvatica in my allotment. Don’t know about the hybrid!

    All the best,


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