Weed of the Month:  Field Bindweed

Field bindweed is our weed of the month because it is an incredibly difficult plant to eradicate. If you can catch an infestation early, then you’re in luck. If not, we have the tools you need to control it.

Field Bindweed Origins:

Field bindweed (convolvulus arvensis) was likely introduced to North America through contaminated seed brought to the continent from Eurasia in the 18th century. It may have also been intentionally introduced as an ornamental because of its pretty flowers.

Field Bindweed: Plant Description

Field bindweed is a climbing perennial vine. As a perennial it grows back each year and because of its extensive root system, it can easily overtake native vegetation. Field bindweed is in the morning glory family which is distinguished by their colorful funnel-shaped flowers. As such, these white or pink flowers tend to open in the morning and close in the afternoon. Another distinguishing feature is its arrowhead-shaped leaves that alternate down the stem.

Its stems grow along the ground, intertwining itself on other plants and structures. An infestation of field bindweed could look like a vine outstretched on the ground, growing around and through a bush, or growing up a wooden lattice. Essentially, field bindweed grows prostrate until it comes into contact with something in its path and subsequently grows up and around the obstacle. Although the stems are quite visible, its seeds are small and more difficult to observe—only ¼ inch in size.

Field Bindweed Habitat

Its habitat includes fields, woods, gardens, lawns, roadsides, vacant lots, along streams, and in agriculture areas. Field bindweed’s ability to thrive in a variety of conditions and temperate regions make it difficult to isolate and control. Unfortunately it is widespread and can be found in most states.

Field Bindweed Growth

This plant is an issue in Teton County because it’s non-native, has an extensive root system, and a prolific seed production. An average plant can produce over 500 seeds. According to researchers, its seeds may be viable in the soil for fifty years. Plus, its root system has a combination of deep vertical and shallow horizontal lateral roots. Some field bindweed plants were found with roots that reached twenty feet in depth.

Field Bindweed Management

Although field bindweed may seem impossible to manage, it can be accomplished even if it takes a few seasons. The key is tenacity. With enough time and patience effective control can be reached. Here are a few key points if you already have an infestation or think it may be a possibility in the future.

Prevention - As always, prevention is the best way to control an invasive plant from spreading to another area or existing in the first place.

Purchase seeds from reputable businesses that guarantee their products aren’t contaminated with invasives.

Educate yourself on the features of field bindweed so that you can accurately identify it.

Thoroughly check pastures, fields, lawns, sidewalks, gardens, etc every year to determine if field bindweed is present.

Mechanical Control - Although it is possible to mechanically dig and control field bindweed with various tools, it is not recommended. The extensive root system and other complex parts of the plant make it extremely difficult to dig up.

Cultural Control  - Field bindweed prefers sunlight to darker, damp conditions. If possible, plant native perennials that provide shade. This may decrease the rate of spread.

Biological Control  - Research indicates that the microscopic mite, Aceria malherbae can infest field bindweed which reduces flowering and stunts the growth of the plant’s stems.

Chemical Control - Effective control cannot happen with only one herbicide treatment. Field bindweed needs the right amount of herbicide at the right time. Furthermore, it may take several treatments over several years for full control. Contact herbicides only kill the parts of the plant that exist on top of the soil; the parts of the plant that you can easily see—the flowers, leaves etc. Hence, a systemic herbicide is much more effective such as 2, 4-D or glyphosate. Because of field bindweed’s extensive root system, large energy reserves, and long seed viability, several chemical treatments are needed along with an integrated pest management (IPM) plan.

Reach out for Help

As explained above, field bindweed is a tricky plant to suppress. If you have an infestation please don’t hesitate to reach out. Together, we can inspect the infestation in person and design a plan to effectively eradicate it.

Have some questions or concerns? Give us a call at (307) 733-8419 or fill out our contact form.