I've been away almost 3 weeks (on trips to East Kent and Upper Teesdale; more on those later). Today, I was back on home turf and went meandering down some local lanes to see what had come into flower in my absence. I was delighted to find a gorgeous colour variation of field bindweed (Convulvulus arvensis) on a road verge.
Field bindweed is a member of the Convolvulaceae family. Convolvulus is from the Latin, convolvere 'to roll together'. Arvensis means 'in the fields' (which might raise a few eyebrows). In French it is called liseron des champs.
Field bindweed has a showy, trumpet-shaped flower. It straggles, seemingly effortlessly, along road verges, paths and field edges. Pretty much anywhere really. It looks so delicate but is a real toughie of the plant world. It is resistant to many herbicides and a serious agricultural pest, being regarded as a noxious weed in the US. A single plant can produce up to 500 seeds and these can remain dormant (and viable) in the soil for up to 20 years.
All that aside, it is still a very beautiful flower and I've seen some lovely examples of different coloured field bindweed this year. Here are some from a walk in the Pegsdon & Barton Hills in May.
I've done a quick online search to see if it was ever used as a herbal medicine. It was apparently used by the Ramah Navaho Indians as a remedy for spider bite and more curiously as "a cold infusion taken with food after swallowing a spider" (Vestal, PA (1952) The Ethnobotany of the Ramah Navaho). Why (or how) one might come to swallow a spider is unclear.