Family: Morningglory Family (Convolvulaceae)
Origin and Distribution: Hedge bindweed is a native of eastern North America. Currently, its range extends throughout the U.S. and includes Europe and Asia. Hedge bindweed is a common weed all over Ohio. It is found in a variety of habitats including stream banks, riverbanks, swamps, marshes, ditches, gardens, fields, thickets, fencerows, and roadsides. The plant flourishes in most any soil type but prefers rich, moist lowland areas in full sun.
Plant Description: Hedge bindweed is a twining perennial vine. Characteristics distinguishing it from other vines include arrowhead-shaped leaves that have pointed tips, pinkish petals fused into funnel-shaped flowers, the presence of large bracts enclosing the base of each flower, and creeping perennial roots. The plant reproduces by seeds and creeping roots.
- Root system - Roots of hedge bindweed tend to be shallow but 10 feet or more in length.
- Seedlings & Shoots - Young plants have dull red stems, thin leaves, a strong smell, and an unpleasant taste. The slender leaf stalks (petioles) have a deep groove on the upper side. Initially, leaves are smooth edged while later-emerging leaves are wavy-edged.
- Stems - Stems are viney, twining, hairless, 3 to 10 feet in length, and either trailing along the ground or climbing over objects.
- Leaves - Leaves are alternate (1 leaf per node), 2 to 5 inches long, triangular-shaped, and have short hairs on the upper and lower surfaces. At the base of each leaf are 2 lobes, one on either side of the petiole, that are squared. The outline of a typical leaf narrows gradually upward such that its sides are nearly parallel. Leaf tips are pointed. Leaves attach to stems by way of long petioles.
- Flowers - Flowers of hedge bindweed are funnel-shaped, white to pinkish, and more than 1 inch across. Flowers arise singly at the end of long stalks arising from the stem at the leaf axils. Attached to the stalk and enclosing the base of each flower are 2, large, leaf-like bracts.
- Fruits & Seeds - Fruits are egg-shaped capsules containing 2 to 4 seeds. The blackish-brown seeds are 3-angled with 1 rounded side and 2 flat sides. Their shape is similar to that of a quartered orange.
Similar Species: Other weedy vines such as field bindweed (Convovulus arvensis), honeyvine milkweed (Ampelamus albidus), and wild buckwheat (Polygonum convolvulus) can be distinguished from hedge bindweed by the appearance of their leaves and flowers. Field bindweed leaves are smaller and they have more pointed lobes and rounded tips than hedge bindweed leaves. Field bindweed flowers are smaller than those of hedge bindweed and, instead of large bracts enclosing the base of each flower, there are 2 small bracts located about an inch below the flower. Honeyvine milkweed leaves are opposite (2 leaves per node) and heart-shaped while hedge bindweed leaves are alternate (1 leaf per node) and arrowhead-shaped. Hedge bindweed flowers are funnel shaped, pinkish, and much larger than those of either honeyvine milkweed, which are vase-shaped and clustered, or wild buckwheat, which are greenish and inconspicuous. In addition, wild buckwheat is an annual lacking perennial creeping roots. Flowers of annual and perennial morningglories (Ipomoea spp.), including bigroot morningglory (Ipomoea pandurata), are shaped similarly to those of field bindweed but their leaves are heart-shaped rather than arrowhead-shaped.
Biology: Flowers bloom from May through September. Hedge bindweed roots are shallow and tend to be less tolerant of drought than more deeply rooted relatives such as field bindweed. The most effective control measure is weeding by hand.
Toxicity: Seeds of many morningglorys have been reported to be dangerous when consumed in large quantities. Roots may be slightly poisonous to swine, although they frequently eat the weed and are usually not affected.
Facts and Folklore:
- 'Sepium' is Latin meaning 'of hedges or fences' suggesting that this species was typically found around the edges of fields.
- Stems twist in a counter-clockwise direction. It has been suggested that unwinding the main stem and rewinding it in the opposite direction will kill the plant.