Herb of the Week-Bearbind/Bindweed
Hedge Bind Weed
Old Man’s Nightcap
Bearbind (botanical name Convolvulus sepium) is a perennially growing herb-like plant having climbing and spiraling stems that bear alternative leaves. This plant produces white or light pink blooms with white streaks and shaped like trumpets. The flowers appear during the period of July and September and similar to all the other species of this genus, develop while there is sunlight and stay closed when the weather conditions are gloomy. However, unlike the blooms of the Field Convolvulus, bearbind flowers do not close when it is raining. The seeds of this herb are like capsules. Bearbind has a chunky tubercle root that forms at the base of the stem and goes to sleep during the fall to remain underground all through the winter months.
The scientific name of bearbind is derived from the Latin terms ‘convolvere’, which when translated into English denotes ‘to entwine’, and ‘sepes’ meaning ‘a hedge’. In fact, the botanical name of bearbind suggests the manner in which this plant, also known as hedge bindweed, grows. Wherever this herb grows, such as in thickets or hedges, it has the aptitude to twine itself with its spirals and generally it counters clockwise in a roundabout fashion on any neighboring plant or a fence for support.
In the form of a therapeutic herb, bearbind or bindweed has been held in high esteem for the potent purgative of its leaves, roots and stems of the herb. In addition, in folk medicine, this herb was also used to cure jaundice.
Bearbind or bindweed is a close relative of the common morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) and is among the most widespread weeds found in North America. At the same time, it is also among the most attractive weeds in the region. However, gardeners are not in favour of bearbind, as it strangulates the plants growing in its neighbourhood, while the plant massive root system causes soil depletion.
It may be noted that bearbind is simply a member of a vast plant family, which also comprises sea bindweed, field bindweed, Syrian bindweed (also called scammony) and jalap bindweed (found in Mexico as well as South America). To some extent, these plants posses a similar cathartic attributes and they also possess other properties, which are common to all. All plants in this family produce beautiful flowers resembling the shape of a trumpet and whose hue varies from white in the case of bearbind, red-stripped rose in the instance of sea bindweed, and sulphur-yellow of scammony. In addition, there is another common aspect of the flowers of these plants - they all remain closed on gloomy days when there is no sunshine or sunlight.