In a Bind with Convolvulaceae

The Convolvulaceae family is the bindweed family, also known as morning glory as many species bloom in the early morning. Most of the species in this family are creepers or climbers and the flowers are easily spotted from a distance due to their large size and interesting trumpet shape which consist of five fused petals, five sepals and five stamens.

Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium)

At least three species of bindweed are found on the Whiteknights campus: large bindweed (Calystegia silvatica), hedge bindweed (Csepium) and field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) (Le Grice & Jury 2011). You can sometimes distinguish the species by the general size of the leaves and flowers but you need to look at the epicalyx to be sure. Field bindweed has no epicalyx, while the differences between the epicalyx of Large and Hedge Bindweeds are illustrated below.

Large bindweed: epicalyx of two inflated, overlapping bracteoles © Shirley Broyles 2012

Hedge bindweed: notice the bracteoles do not overlap © Shirley Broyles 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With their persistent growth habits and tendency to strangle other plants, the Convolvulaceae are often considered a weed to gardeners. However, some species do have their uses, for example, the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a commonly cultivated member of this family and can be seen being grown in the new Tropical Greenhouse at Reading University.

Reference:

Le Grice, D. & Jury, S.L. 2011. The Flora of Whiteknights Park. Unpublished BSc Dissertation, University of Reading.

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