Now here’s a plant that’s loathed by gardeners and horticulturalists as it’s almost impossible to iget rid of once established, yet when viewed in isolation is a stunningly beautiful plant creating dramatic cascades of verdant growth by wrapping iself around other host plants and trees.

Whether it’s clambering over derilict buildings, smothering a hump-backed bridge or choking a towpath hedgerow, there’s hardly a length of canal in the country that doesn’t play host to the ubiquitous Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) otherwise known as Bellbine, Barbine, Bethwine, Cornbine; Withybine, Withywind, Waywind; Lady, Lady-jump-out-of-bed, Granny-jumps-out-of-bed; Robin-run-the-hedge; Snake’s meat; Devil’s guts; Ropewind; Sussex lily or Wild lily.


The smaller, weaker-stemmed Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) with white or pink trumpet-shaped flowers is problematic in long grass and bare soil. 


Hedge bindweed climbs with strong twining stems, has large heart-shaped leaves and large white trumpet flowers.


Flowering from June to October and growing up to 3 metres, bindweed entwines in an anticlockwise direction and can often be found growing up and over hedges, fruit trees, plants and borders.


Very invasive and likely to smother other smaller plants, it spreads through creeping underground roots and seed.


Bindweeds are a problematic for a number of reasons:

  • Bellbind spreads mainly from sections of underground stem (rhizome) or root. The roots of bellbind may penetrate up to 5m (16ft) deep or more and spread rapidly, but most growth is from white, shallow, fleshy underground stems. Established colonies can spread outwards by 2m (6ft) or more in a single season
  • Even very small sections are capable of producing shoot growth and can unwittingly be brought into gardens hidden among plant roots and in soils or manures
  • Bellbind produces seeds infrequently, but they can reportedly remain viable in the soil for many years
  • The roots of field bindweed are similarly deep-rooting to those of bellbind, with underground stems and shoots arising directly from the roots. Established colonies may extend outwards by 2m (6½ft) or more in a season
  • Field bindweed produces seeds freely and they can remain viable in the soil for several years
  • The plant exudes a milky sap if damaged. Hedge bindweed has medicinal uses as a laxative.
Classic simplicity of the aggressive bindweed…

Further Reading

Other plants covered in this series can be accessed HERE.


3 thoughts on “Canal Flora: Bindweed

  1. Yep. This seems to be what we have in our garden. Very fast growing, smothering other plants and flowers and really annoying. Wife says “Use weed killer on it” but I don’t want to kill off other plants n flowers, etc, SO what can I use that will get rid of it for good??


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