The bindweed family includes many popular garden plants including the morning glory, High John the Conqueror root, wild buckwheat and sweet potato, but this article is going to focus specifically on Convolvus arvensis, commonly called bindweed, field bindweed, lawn bindweed, cornbind, bellbind, sheepbind (or sheepbine), possession vine, wild morning glory, perennial morning glory, creeping Jenny and, according to the Brothers Grimm, our Lady’s little glass. It can be found growing uninvited in most yards and is considered a noxious weed by many.
Bindweed is a pretty plant with a pleasant fragrance. It has trumpet-shaped flowers, usually white or very pale purple or pink, which open and arrow-shaped leaves. It creeps along the ground or will climb a vertical object, such as a fence or another plant. There is a broad-leaved and a narrow-leaved variety.
Other similar plants include Convolvulus sepium or Calystegia sepium hedge bindweed, bugle vine, bellbind, Devil’s vine, devil’s guts, bride’s gown, wedlock, old man’s nightcap, hedge lily, wild morning glory, field bindweed. This one likes the East coast of the US best (just as c. arvensis likes the West coast best) but can be found all across the USA. It has similar properties. The flowers are a little larger, white or pale pink with white stripes.
Bindweed in the Garden
Bindweed is a vigorous plant that will spread and will be difficult to get rid of, so it is not recommended that you try to grow it in your garden. Instead, look for it growing wild, in your garden and your neighbors. If you live on the West coast of the US where it grows in droves (here in the North you just see some here and there), it shouldn’t be hard to find. Wildharvesting is the way to go with this one. If you must grow it; grow it in a container, preferably indoors.
Wild harvesting Bindweed
Bindweed is a plant that any witch should feel free to wild harvest with impunity, especially in the United States. Unless you are specifically harvesting the root; do not try to uproot the plant. You will never get all the roots and those that are damaged will simply form new plants. You can cut the stem as close to the ground as you like and remember where you find it. A mature plant will recover quickly and you’ll be able to cut it again. If you are gathering the root, likewise no worries. You can’t hurt it. Bring a shovel and dig out as much root as you can get.
The Trouble with Bindweed
Bindweed is considered a dangerous invasive herb in many parts of the United States. It grows prolifically in disturbed places, like plowed fields and tilled gardens and wraps itself around other plants, blocking (essentially stealing) their sunlight and even causing the host plant to eventually fall over. Bindweed’s root system can penetrate up to 20 feet into the soil and these roots can bud off to create a new plant at depths of 14 feet. This makes it very difficult to uproot this perennial plant. In fact, manual weeding, far from eradicating the plant, can simply encourage it to make new plants wherever the roots are damaged. It also grows well and quickly from the seeds it produces each year. I have also heard (from various old wives) that rusty nails in the garden can help check bindweed’s growth.(perhaps not nails, perhaps safer iron things?)
Not only does field bindweed have the potential to out-compete any plant around it and to use other plants to get more sunlight, it is also a carrier for diseases that affect food crops such as potatoes and tomatoes and is mildly toxic to livestock that can easily ingest it while grazing on edible plants it has entangled itself with.
The average farmer or gardener is likely to reach for pesticides to kill the bindweed, most of which are useless against this tenacious plant and just poisons the soil. However, a patient gardener can starve out the bindweed by cutting it at ground level, and cutting it again as soon as possible when it comes up again, and again until it finally gives up.
Household Uses for Bindweed
Bindweed can be used like twine. The leaves and stems can be used to make a dye.
Magickal Uses for Bindweed
Bindweed vines can be used for binding spells (including handfasting) and for creating “bridges” and connections between realms.
I am told the bindweed can be substituted in any recipe calling for High John the Conqueror, root for root.
The seeds have been used in earlier times to induce hallucinations. They are toxic. Do not try this.
Magickal Correspondences of Bindweed
Healing Uses for Bindweed
I am told the root can be used as a purgative. There are better options.