Convolvulus arvensis (Field Bindweed)

Scientific name

Convolvulus arvensisL.

Synonyms

Convolvulus ambigens House; Convolvulus incanus auct. non Vahl; Strophocaulos arvensis (L.) Small

Common names

Field bindweed, creeping jenny, European bindweed, morningglory, perennial morningglory, smallflowered morning glory

Family

Convolvulaceae

Origin

This species is native to continental Europe and Asia.

Naturalised distribution (global)

Convolvulus arvensis is widely naturalised in tropical and temperate parts of the world.

Introduced, naturalised or invasive in East Africa

Convolvulus arvensis is invasive in parts of Kenya, and Uganda (CABI Crop Compendium 2007). A very widely naturalised species in Kenya at 1500-1780m altitudes, around the Nairobi, Aberdares, Machakos and Mau areas.

Habitat

Plants typically inhabit roadsides, grasslands and also along streams. Widely distributed weed in temperate regions.

Description

Convolvulus arvensis is a long-lived (perennial)  herb with twining or prostrate stems. Leaves are mostly hairless, ovate (egg-shaped with broad end at base)-oblong to lanceolate (lance-like) in shape,  up to 7.5 cm long by 3 cm width, with a notched base.

Flowers are approximately 0.75-1 in. (1.9-2.5 cm) across and are subtended by small bracts. Flowers are usually solitary; bracts 3mm long; sepals elliptic-circular or oblong with petals that are white or pink or white-tinged pink, 2cm in length.

Fruits are light brown, rounded and 30mm wide. Each fruit contains 2 seeds.

Reproduction and dispersal

Fruits are bird-dispersed. Seeds can remain viable in the soil up to 2 decades. Also, the deep extensive root system stores carbohydrates and proteins and allows it to sprout repeatedly from fragments and rhizomes following removal of above ground growth.

Similar species

Convolvulus siculus L. This plant can be distinguished by the flower petals which are white or tinged bluish-lilac, about 6mm long.

Convolvulus farinosus L. can be distinguished from Convolvulus arvensis by the shorter petals 11-16mm long, white in colour and tinged pinkish purple, while the petals of C. arvensis grow to 20mm.

Convolvulus sagittatus Thunb. can be distinguished from C. arvensis by the much shorter petals, 9mm long, white in colour to pink with purple centre.

Economic and other uses

The root has medicinal properties. However, this use cannot compensate for this plant's overall negative impacts.

Environmental and other impacts

Convolvulus arvensis smoothers and topples native species. This is a rampant weed with rapid growth and tendency to choke cultivated plants. In natural environments, C. arvensis competes with and displaces native bindweeds. Due to its climbing ability, it is able to infest various levels of a plant community (from ground level to the tops of trees). Also, it competes with other species for sunlight, moisture and nutrients. It poses challenge to restoration of riparian zones (banks of watercourses) by choking out grasses and forbs. It can affect food plants and cover for local animals. C. arvensis is mildly toxic to grazing animals.

Convolvulus arvensis has been listed as a noxious weed in South Africa (prohibited plants that must be controlled. They serve no economic purpose and possess characteristics that are harmful to humans, animals or the environment) and the Australian States of Victoria and South Australia.

Management

The precise management measures adopted for any plant invasion will depend upon factors such as the terrain, the cost and availability of labour, the severity of the infestation and the presence of other invasive species. Some components of an integrated management approach are introduced below.

The best form of invasive species management is prevention. If prevention is no longer possible, it is best to treat the weed infestations when they are small to prevent them from establishing (early detection and rapid response). Controlling the weed before it seeds will reduce future problems. Control is generally best applied to the least infested areas before dense infestations are tackled. Consistent follow-up work is required for sustainable management.

Early action is particularly important for Convolvulus arvensis which is very difficult to eradicate because of its long-lived (perennial) root system and the fact that the seeds remain viable in soil for up to 20 years Manual control is very difficult as the plant can regenerate from root fragments. The perennial root system is resistant to herbicide applications at the normal rate.

The editors are not aware of successful biological control programmes on this species.

Legislation

Not listed as a noxious weed by the state or governments in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

References

Agnew, A. D. Q. and Agnew, S. (1994). Upland Kenya Wild Flowers. A flora of the Ferns and Herbaceous Flowering Plants of Upland Kenya. 2nd Ed. EANHS, Nairobi-Kenya.

CABI Crop Protection Compendium online data sheet. Convolvulus arvensis (bindweed). CABI Publishing 2011. www.cabi.org/ISC. Accessed March 2011.

USDA Plants Profile. Convolvulus arvensis L. field bindweed. The Plants Database. plants.usda.gov/java/. National Plant Data Center, National Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. Accessed March 2011.

Wikipedia contributors. "Convolvulus arvensis" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed January 2011.

Editors

Agnes Lusweti, National Museums of Kenya; Emily Wabuyele, National Museums of Kenya, Paul Ssegawa, Makerere University; John Mauremootoo, BioNET-INTERNATIONAL Secretariat - UK.

Acknowledgments

This fact sheet is adapted from The Environmental Weeds of Australia by Sheldon Navie and Steve Adkins, Centre for Biological Information Technology, University of Queensland. We recognise the support from the National Museums of Kenya, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) - Tanzania and Makerere University, Uganda. This activity was undertaken as part of the BioNET-EAFRINET UVIMA Project (Taxonomy for Development in East Africa).

Contact

BioNET-EAFRINET Regional Coordinator: eafrinet@africaonline.co.ke