Friday, May 30, 2014

Beastly Bindweed

If you were ever skeptical of stories that report that bindweed can come up from beneath asphalt, now is the time to lower your cynicism and face the triumphant floral villain.  A few weeks back, the gravel road in front of our house was paved and it is now full of green-bubbling volcanoes of exuberant triangular leaves.  Although my neighbor questioned the policy prior to paving, the paving company and township said that pre-treating the road base with herbicide was not necessary.  They were wrong.  That root system can go down to over 10 feet deep and if the entire root isn't removed, it regenerates from any remaining rhizomes. To top it off, seeds remain viable for up to 50 years in the soil!  Because of the lack of foresight and the tight pockets of the local government, we may now be in for a lifetime of erupting asphalt on our road.  

Bindweed, or Convolvulus arvensis, which is the likely species in this area, grows throughout Kansas, but was native to Eurasia, carried across the Atlantic ocean and west across the prairies by its own version of manifest destiny. Once cultivated as an ornamental and a medicinal herb, it is now a noxious weed in many states and is nearly impossible to eradicate without toxic chemicals.  The plant at the bottom right has been sprayed twice with Roundup and still continues to grow.  We should consider adding nuclear waste to the next spray.  Or we'll have to try flamethrowers or perhaps raw sulfuric acid.  And what do we do about the yet-unerupted masses hiding below the surface like the one to the left?  How do I kill the seedlings before they destroy the road?

Up till now, I've controlled its spread into our yard, and I've fought it in only one of my garden beds (one with imported soil), but it seems to really like the poor clay base of our road.  Or at least the seeds are feeling cramped and trying to find some sunshine.  The patience and strength of those tiny tendrils is mind boggling.
I wish my roses had that excess of vigor.  Or perhaps I don't, because roses that came up through asphalt AND had thorns would be pretty rough on our tires.  Anyway, what's next to test my tolerance?  Kudzu?


  1. Well, you're right about the Dayflower. I've only got a small problem with nutsedge and I'm trying a little "sledge hammer" for it.

  2. It seems to me, at least in my garden, that the bindweed (which has been doing very well in the drought, thank you very much) is Roundup resistant. Some farmer types that I've talked to talk about combining Roundup with other chemicals to get it to work.


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