Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Field Bindweed aka Convolvulus arvensis
Kinda looks cute, right? I mean to a newbie who just moved in... to find your yard suddenly awash with morning glory like blooms in various shades of baby pink to snow white.
I remember thinking... wow... this is pretty! How darling and sweet these flowers are. And I let them grow.. the bees visited them often.. they climbed anything they were near, and I thought... how lucky I am!
They were through out my entire lawn. When a breeze came by it was awash with nodding petal heads. They survived mowing with ease and laughed at the drought.
My daughter picked some and we discovered she was allergic to them 2 seconds after she broke out in a massive angry rash. Ut oh. So I went along and sadly started pulling plants out around the playground... and they grew right back almost instantly.
When the end of summer came... I also discovered bindweed has a severe weakness to powdery mildew. It is the first plant to get it, and as it wraps around other plants it infects them too. My yard was now a war zone.
I have been ruthlessly ripping these plants out since 2002 and I am proud to say... I have gotten absolutely nowhere. So far the only advice I have gotten is simply "move". I won't use herbicides in my yard. Poisons are not an option when you have kids and critters romping around... and that includes wildlife.
It is an invasive non native plant. Some other names it goes by are: creeping charlie, cornbind, creeping jenny, wild morning glory, greenvine and lovevine.
It is a perennial that spreads by root rhizomes and by seed. It can send a taproot down as far as 20 feet deep. It can spread underground also by lateral root system from which it sprouts runners. In a study they found 1 bindweed plant had spread through a huge area and by the end of the season it had established over 140 other bindweed runners. The root system is a network that contains energy reserves allowing it to handle repeated aggressive pulling easily. Even the nasty chemicals take a couple years to kill it. I have seen 1 inch root cuttings send up new shoots. Icing on the cake is that the seed can remain dormant for DECADES.
For now all I can do is keep ripping it out and waiting. The hope lies in a 1mm big mite that goes by the name of Aceria malherbae. The mite attacks plants in the morning glory family. Produces galls, stunts plant growth which in turn inhibits flowering. It feeds on the roots in winter in essence depleting bindweed's energy reserves which curbs it's spread. Even still it takes years to kill of the plant.
Here's to hoping you never find it in your yard.