Convolvulus arvensis - L.
Field Bindweed
Other Common Names: field bindweed
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Convolvulus arvensis L. (TSN 30705)
French Common Names: liseron des champs
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.153913
Element Code: PDCON05020
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Morning-Glory Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Solanales Convolvulaceae Convolvulus
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Convolvulus arvensis
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Reviewed: 22Mar1994
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (07Sep2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNA), Arizona (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNR), Hawaii (SNA), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Alberta (SNA), British Columbia (SNA), Manitoba (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (SNA), Saskatchewan (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Convolvulus arvensis is a native of Eurasia and was introduced to North America in the 1730s (Wiese and Phillips 1976). It spread westward, reaching Pennsylvania by 1812, Kansas by 1877, and all the western states by 1900 (Whitesides 1979). It was first reported in California near San Francisco in 1838 and now infests 1.8 million acres in the state (Rosenthal 1983). It is spread by sowing contaminated crop seed, planting nursery stock containing convolvulus roots, and seed or plant parts carried by animals and humans (Swan 1980).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: Convolvulus arvensis is a native of Eurasia and was introduced to North America in the 1730s (Wiese and Phillips 1976). It spread westward, reaching Pennsylvania by 1812, Kansas by 1877, and all the western states by 1900 (Whitesides 1979). It was first reported in California near San Francisco in 1838 and now infests 1.8 million acres in the state (Rosenthal 1983). It is spread by sowing contaminated crop seed, planting nursery stock containing convolvulus roots, and seed or plant parts carried by animals and humans (Swan 1980).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, ARexotic, AZexotic, CAexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GA, HIexotic, IAexotic, IDexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MA, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, MTexotic, NCexotic, NDexotic, NEexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NMexotic, NVexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, OKexotic, ORexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WAexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada ABexotic, BCexotic, MBexotic, NBexotic, NSexotic, ONexotic, PEexotic, QCexotic, SKexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: Convolvulus arvensis is a deep-rooted, perennial vine that reproduces by seeds and root buds.
Technical Description: The following description is taken from Munz and Keck (1973), Weaver and Riley (1982), and Cronquist et al. (1984).

The root system and rhizomes are extensive, whitish, cordlike, and fleshy. Stems are slender, prostrate, glabrous to pubescent, twining or trailing, branched, 3-10 dm long, often forming dense, tangled mats.

Leaves are alternate, simple, petiolate, glabrous to finely pubescent; the blades 1.5-5 cm long, 1-3.5 cm wide, varying in size and shape, including triangular to ovate-oblong with hastate, cordate, or sagittate basal lobes, obtuse to rounded at the apex, and with entire margins. The petioles are slender and 0.5-2.5 (3.5) cm long.

Flowers are borne singly or in pairs on 0.5-3 cm long peduncles from the leaf axils. Two mostly subulate to narrowly spathulate bracts, 1-3 (10) mm long, are inserted 1-2.5 cm below the flower. The calyx of five green sepals is 3-5 mm long; the segments broadly obovate, rounded to retuse, the margins hyaline and often ciliate. The corolla is white or with some pink, broadly funnelform, 1.5-3 cm long and 2.2-3.5 cm wide when fully opened. Five stamens of unequal length, 2-3 mm, are attached near the base of the corolla. The pistil is compound with two threadlike stigmas, and the ovary is two-celled.

The capsule is subglobose, 5-7 mm long, and contains 1 to 4 seeds. Seeds are ovoid to pear-shaped, 3-5 mm long, three- angled, with one rounded and two flattened sides, dull brownish- gray, and coarsely roughened. The cotyledons of the seedling are opposite, glabrous, and have a reniform blade with an emarginate apex.

Diagnostic Characteristics: Convolvulus arvensis can be confused with several other members of the Convolvulaceae (Morning-glory family). C. sepium is quite similar in appearance but can be distinguished by its larger leaves, flowers, and seeds, and by two large bracts inserted at the base of the flower. C. spithamaeus is shorter than C. arvensis and is erect with oval leaves. Several species of Ipomoea resemble C. arvensis, but they can be distinguished by their annual habit, capitate stigma, longer sepals, and blue or purple corolla. Polygonum convolvulus (Polygonaceae) can be confused with C. arvensis due to its arrow-shaped leaves and twining stems but is distinguished by its annual habit and clusters of small green flowers in the leaf axils.
Ecology Comments: The extensive root system of Convolvulus arvensis enables it to colonize new areas rapidly. The primary root is a taproot from which lateral roots develop. Most lateral roots die back each year, but some persist for several years, spreading horizontally. Buds arise on the lateral roots 50-100 cm from the parent taproot (Hickman and Swan 1983) and develop into rhizomes that have the potential to establish new crowns when they reach the surface (Weaver and Riley 1982). Excised root segments establish new roots and crowns more effectively than rhizome segments. The periods of best establishment are spring and late summer (Swan and Chancelor 1976), which coincide with the normal tillage period in agriculture. In general, root regeneration from vertical roots and rhizomes is probably more important than from lateral root segments.

Convolvulus arvensis has the potential for extensive lateral spread through regeneration from underground parts. Best (1963) found that a 5-cm section of a lateral root with buds could produce as many as 25 shoots four months after planting. Four months after transplanting, shoots can be produced up to 120 cm from the transplant. Shoots can be found nearly 300 cm away from the transplant after 15 months. Even young seedlings have the ability to resprout successfully. Swan (1983) cut bindweed seedlings 1 cm below the surface and studied subsequent regeneration. Regrowth occurred one to four weeks after plants were cut and was correlated more strongly with the age of the seedlings than with the aboveground biomass. All plants cut 44 days after emergence regenerated, but some plants cut only 20 days after emergence regenerated as well.

Convolvulus arvensis overwinters by means of its roots and rhizomes. Shoots are killed back to the crown by freezing temperatures, but hardened roots can withstand temperatures as low as -6 C (Weaver and Riley 1982). During the winter dormant period, food reserves in the plant remain stable as only a small amount is used in respiration. The reserves are gradually depleted during emergence and leaf development. Leaves return carbohydrates to the roots, but until the later growth stages, food is used faster than it is replaced (Swan 1980). The large carbohydrate reserve in roots contributes to the regenerative capacity of C. arvensis. Roots commonly grow to a depth of 2 m but have been found as deep as 9 m (Phillips 1978).

Natural variation in morphology and growth of Convolvulus arvensis is evidenced by different biotypes. Among biotypes are found differences in leaf morphology, floral characteristics, and biomass allocation to roots and shoots (DeGennaro and Weller 1982). Time of flowering can vary by as much as 23 days, with earliest flowering plants having 19 times more flowers per plant than the latest flowering plants. The number of root buds that develop into shoots can vary from 2% to 75% (Degennaro and Weller 1984b). Biotypes can also be distinguished by differences in resistance to herbicides. For a given rate of application of glyphosate, top kill can vary from 25% to 100%. Glyphosate application of 1.7 kg/ha killed 100% of a sensitive type, while an application of 3.4 kg/ha killed only 40% of a resistant type (DeGennaro and Weller 1984a). Biotypes appear to be self-incompatible, thereby insuring outcrossing and maximum genetic variability in the next generation.

Environmental conditions also affect the morphological and physiological characteristics of C. arvensis. Plants growing under low-moisture conditions have smaller leaves with more cuticular wax. Plants growing in semi-arid regions are usually more resistant to control than in humid regions because they have less leaf area, thicker cuticles, lower leaf-to-root ratios, and generally slower metabolic processes (Meyer 1978).

Seed production is variable and depends on environmental conditions. Seed set is usually greater in dry, warm weather and on dry, calcareous soils, and it is usually poor during rainy periods or in poorly drained soil (Whitesides 1979). Each seed weighs about 10 mg. The number of seeds produced per plant ranges from 25 to 300, although the spatial limit of a plant is sometimes difficult to determine (Weaver and Riley 1982). Seeds have a hard, impermeable seed coat. They generally fall near the parent plant but can be dispersed by mammals and birds after ingestion, by water, and as a contaminant in crop seeds (Holm et al. 1977).

Convolvulus arvensis seeds can remain viable in the soil for over 20 years (Timmons 1949). Seeds are able to germinate as soon as 15 days after pollination, and scarified seeds will germinate over a wide range of temperatures (Weaver and Riley 1982). Chilling greatly enhances germination by increasing seed coat porosity and enhancing for the exchange of gases and water. Seeds chilled at 5 C for 21 and 24 days had germination rates of 55% and 85%, respectively, as compared to 10% for unchilled seeds (Jordan and Jordan 1982).

Habitat Comments: Convolvulus arvensis is distributed throughout the world from latitude 60 degrees N to 45 degrees S and is found in temperate, tropical, and Mediterranean climates (Holm et al. 1977). It is found in dry to moderately moist soils and can survive long periods of drought. It grows best on fertile soils but persists on poor, rocky soils as well. It is a troublesome weed in cultivated fields, pastures, gardens, roadsides, and various native plant communities. It is found in large patches rather than as isolated plants and grows best in open communities in association with annual, biennial, and short-lived weeds (Weaver and Riley 1982).
Economic Attributes
Economic Comments: Convolvulus arvensis is one of the world's worst agricultural weeds and reduces yields in a large variety of crops. It has a large negative economic impact on agriculture and results in annual crop losses of over $25 million in California alone (Rosenthal 1983).
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: The most effective means of controlling Convolvulus arvensis is by application of herbicides. Glyphosate and dicamba provide the best control when applied repeatedly at moderately high rates. Because of evidence of damage to crop plants from these chemicals, care should be taken to determine potential damage to desirable native plants.

Infestations of Convolvulus arvensis should be controlled at the earliest possible time because of the plant's ability to regenerate by both underground parts and seeds.

Species Impacts: Convolvulus arvensis can be a serious threat to native plant communities because it has such a great capacity for regeneration. Detached roots and rhizomes have the potential to produce large numbers of new shoots, thereby increasing both densities and spatial dominance. A high rate of seed production and long-term seed viability allow the plant to spread and persist. The broad range of environmental tolerances of the plant makes it highly competitive. It can maintain stable populations in a variety of different plant communities.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Convolvulus arvensis can be a serious weed in native plant communities. It can be a continuous threat in preserves near agricultural areas that have stable populations of this weed. A preserve with high quality natural areas can still be managed successfully if infestations of bindweed are localized.

With proper control measures, areas can be restored to desirable vegetation if infestations are localized or of low density. Some consideration should be given to the potential for continued reinvasion of a site through seed dispersal, especially from adjacent agricultural land.

Management Requirements: Convolvulus requires active management once it is established because of its potential to regenerate rapidly. Populations adjacent to preserves should also be monitored and, seed dispersal should be mitigated, if possible.

MECHANICAL CONTROL: There is no evidence of successful long-term control of Convolvulus arvensis with mechanical methods. Portions of roots and rhizomes becoming detached have the potential to produce new shoots. Mowing has a negligible effect unless plants are cut below the surface in the early seedling stage (Swan 1983). Well-established populations have a large seed pool in the soil that can remain viable for a long period of time.

CHEMICAL CONTROL: There is extensive literature on the control of Convolvulus arvensis with various herbicides. Although chemical treatment can be successful, it often requires high rates as well as repeated applications (Gigax and Messersmith 1978). Successful treatment of bindweed can result in substantial damage to desirable plants as well.

Glyphosate, dicamba, and 2,4-D are the herbicides that have the greatest effectiveness against bindweed. Foliar application of glyphosate can provide good control but only when applied at rates of 3.5 to 5 kg/ha (Banks et al. 1979, Wiese and Lavake 1981, Swan 1982, Peel and Evans 1983). Control is best during the period of early flowering (Alcock and Dickinson 1974) and is slightly more effective when soil moisture is low (Allen 1979). Even at high rates of application, repeated applications are advisable for long-term control. Wide variation in susceptibility to glyphosate has been observed in different biotypes of bindweed, with differences as great as 70% in injury rating for the same rate of application (DeGennaro and Weller 1984a). Tolerant biotypes display increased tolerance with age, while susceptible biotypes do not change.

Dicamba applied at the rate of 4.5 kg/ha can provide excellent control of bindweed, although some damage to agricultural crops has been observed this rate of application (Brinkman 1982). Applications of dicamba plus can also provide good control (Trichota and Foster 1981). Subsurface application of dicamba at a rate of 2 kg/ha is effective, but it has also been shown to damage crop plants (Banks et al. 1979) because of its long residence time (one to three years) in the soil (Swan 1982).

2,4-D can also provide good control at application rates of 4 kg/ha or greater, but it is generally not as effective as glyphosate or dicamba (Swan 1982). Translocation of this herbicide in the plant is generally more effective in seedlings than in older plants (Agbakoba and Goodin 1969). There are also differences in resistance among biotypes to applications of 2,4-D (Whitworth and Muzik 1967).

Hexazionone has been shown to be effective against Convolvulus arvensis but only at a high rate of application (9 kg/ha) (Allen 1979). Fosamine can also provide control but again only at a rate of application (14 kg/ha) high enough to damage crop plants (Wiese and Lavake 1981).

BIOLOGICAL CONTROL: Although an extensive effort has been undertaken to locate a good biological control for Convolvulus arvensis, none is currently available (Rosenthal et al. 1983). There are several insects that will defoliate the plant at high rates, but they are also potentially damaging to other members of the Convolvulaceae such as sweet potato (Ipomoea batatus) and morning-glories (Calystegia spp.).

Monitoring Requirements: Monitoring is needed to determine the effectiveness of control methods and to evaluate the recovery of native plant species. Abundance and aerial extent of Convolvulus arvensis infestations should be closely monitored because of its potential to regenerate rapidly by both seeds and underground parts. Even small infestations should be viewed as serious.

Seed sources of the weed in areas adjacent to preserves should be identified, and seed dispersal mitigated, if possible.

Monitoring Programs: Populations of Convolvulus arvensis adjacent to Jepson Prairie Preserve, California, are currently being monitored. This management is passive because the weed is not presently known to exist on the preserve. Bindweed does occur at the Vina Plains Preserve, California, but no efforts have yet been made to control it there (Griggs pers. comm. 1988). Contact: Tom Griggs, Preserve Manager, Cosumnes River Preserve, 7100 Desmond Road, Galt, CA 95632. (916) 864-2816.
Management Research Needs: Rates of herbicide applications high enough to kill bindweed have been shown to damage crop plants as well. Information is needed on the effect of chemicals such as glyphosate and dicamba on native plant communities.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Medium/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Although Convolvulus arvensis has significantly negative impacts in agricultural settings, there are few to no reported negative effects in native species habitats. The long-lived seed bank and extreme difficulty in management should be considered and used as evidence to prevent any dispersal of seed or root fragments of this species.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: High/Medium
I-Rank Review Date: 30Aug2004
Evaluator: Fellows, M.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Eurasia (Lyons 1998).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Although Convolvulus arvensis is known as an agricultural weed, it may also have negative effects in natural areas (Lyons 1998).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Medium significance/Insignificant
Comments: Available information is inferred from Convolvulus arvensis effects in crops: Known to reduce soil moisture and nutrient availability; soil moisture can be depressed below the wilting point for many species; root exudates of C. arvensis can limit germination of some seeds (Lyons 1998).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Convolvulus arvensis is a perennial vine, but a poor climber, instead forming dense, tangled mats on the ground surface (Lyons 1998). An extensive root and rhizome system is also formed, up to 6.6m long (Lyons 1998).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Convolvulus arvensis is an extremely persistent member of the community.

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Low significance
Comments: May be midly toxic to grazing animals (Lyons 1998).

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Low significance
Comments: Convolvulus arvensis occurs in areas that have been degraded by past land use, human activity or lack of fire, especially in riparian corridors and mixed shrubland/grassland or grassland/forb habitats (Lyons 1998).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: Occurs throughout the contiguous US and HI (Kartesz 1999). In 2000, it occurred in over 2000 square kilometers in ID alone (Lyons 1998).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Not ranked
Comments: Listed as a noxious weed in 19 states (Kartesz 1999). Is not yet a serious weed in the southeast US (Lyons 1998).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High significance
Comments: Inferred from range in Kartesz (1999) and the ecoregion maps (TNC 2001).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:High significance
Comments: Known from a variety of habitats including: fields, old fields, roadsides, grasslands, grass/forb habitats, shrub/forb habitats, riparian areas (Lyons 1998).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:High significance
Comments: Between 1955 and 2000, the area infested with C. arvensis increased 4-fold (Lyons 1998).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Not ranked
Comments: There are conflicting reports regarding moisture tolerance, however, germination is poor under 'soggy conditions' (Lyons 1998).

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Long distance dispersal is dependent on water or birds, the latter of which can retain viable seed for several hours (Lyons 1998). Dispersal is also achieved via contaminated nursery stock or on machinery (Lyons 1998).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Not ranked

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Low significance
Comments: Spreads with disturbance (Lyons 1998).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance
Comments: Present in southern Canada (Kartesz 1999) and throughout the world between 60 degrees North and 45 degrees South (Lyons 1998). Native and naturalized habitats are similar throughout the world: roadsides, right-of-ways, and disturbed open sites (Wilken and Hannah 1998).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High significance
Comments: Underground rhizomes may reach 2.6 m long (Lyons 1998). Seed production per plant ranges between 25 and 300 (Lyons 1998). Deep root system allows for resprouts when aboveground material is removed (Lyons 1998). The seed bank is persistent, with seeds as old as 55-years capable of germinating and producing fruit (Lyons 1998).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: High/Medium

17. General Management Difficulty:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Complete eradication is probably not possible (Lyons 1998). Mechanical and chemical methods will need to be applied in tandem over several years (Lyons 1998). Burning, smother crops and competitive plantings have all also been used to control C. arvensis (Lyons 1998).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:High significance
Comments: A seed bank may last for 55 years (Lyons 1998). A diligent and agressive weed control strategy in an agricultural system may be effective in 3-5 years (Lyons 1998), but those methods are generally unacceptable in native areas.

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Not ranked

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Not ranked
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 17Oct1988
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: David L. Peterson
Management Information Edition Date: 17Oct1988
Management Information Edition Author: DAVID PETERSON (1988)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 17Oct1988
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): DAVID L. PETERSON, USDA FOREST SERVICE

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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  • Rosenthal, S. S., L. A. Andres, and C. B. Huffker. 1983. Field bindweed in California: the outlook for biological control. Calif. Agric. 37: 18-22.

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