Nature on our doorsteps: Bindweed

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

Bindweed is very noticeable at the moment, scrambling over hedgerows, fences, walls, and waste places. 

With its large white trumpet-shaped flowers and arrow-shaped green leaves, it is an attractive enough plant in the wild but, unfortunately, it is not so welcome in the garden. 

Bindweed scrambles over hedgerows and fences 1

Bindweed scrambles over hedgerows and fences

Bindweed does exactly as its name indicates. 

It latches onto other plants, because its stems are too weak to support its relatively large flowers and leaves. 

It twines itself around these other supports, scrambling over them to reach up into the sunlight. 

As it grows, plant hormones in the tips of Bindweed’s growing stems cause the plant to wrap itself around these other supports in a spiral manner, always in an anti-clockwise direction.  

Bindweeds white trumpet shaped flowers attract pollinating insects 1

Bindweed's white trumpet-shaped flowers attract pollinating insects

Bindweed can grow quite quickly so before long, it can almost smother the plants and hedgerows that support it. 

Also, its deep roots are brittle, so it is not easy to dig it out successfully as any small fragments that are left behind will grow again.

Like most things in nature however, this native plant offers other benefits that help counteract these traits. 

Its nectar-rich flowers attract bees, moths, and butterflies from mid-summer to late autumn, while the caterpillars of the spectacular Convolvulus Hawkmoth feed solely on Bindweed. It also had some use in folk medicine in the past.  

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