Traditional and Modern Use of Field Bindweed

Common name

  • Field Bindweed

Botanical name

  • Convolvulus arvensis

Family

  • Convolvulaceae

Habitat

  • Cultivated land
  • Dunes
  • Hedgerows
  • Roadsides
  • Short turf
  • Wasteland

Flowers

  • May
  • July
  • August
  • September

Toxicity

WARNING VERY EXPERIMENTAL | TREAD VERY CAUTIOUSLY

Just because a plant was used in the past as food DOES NOT MEAN that it is safe to eat. Borage and comfrey are classic examples of this. Obviously there are many that are safe to eat. But when you see a warning on these plant profiles like this… IT IS FOR A REASON… CONSUME AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

  • Bindweed contains several alkaloids, including pseudotropine, and lesser amounts of tropine, tropinone, and meso-cuscohygrine.
  • Recently a scientist from a French university contacted me. She wrote “Here is an article about the distribution of ergot-alkaloids in different plant parts of several Ipomoea species, comparing untreated with fungicide-treated seeds to try to figure out how much was due to the plant (answer = probably some) and how much to the fungus (answer = more). Admittedly I have found nothing on Convolvulus, but I suspect this means that nobody has looked, not that there is none. The toxicity of Morning Glories was (in part at least) due to ergot-like producing micro-organisms that grow endophytically? Because of this, since infection rates with these microbes can vary over time and space, but that some are very very toxic and disturbing, it may be best to avoid morning glories entirely.”

Edible Parts

  • Young shoots
  • Young rosettes
  • Young leaves
  • Seeds

Edible Uses

  • In Croatia the young rosettes are boiled and the same for the leaves, then added to salads.
  • In Turkey they cook the leaves in with other vegetables.
  • In the South Eastern Albacete and South Central Jaen regions Spain the flowers are sucked for their honey like nectar.
  • In Ladakh the seeds are boiled in onion and tomato and then fried in oil before being eaten.

Share your experience. Leave a note for others

  1. Ace! I’m a gardener and consequently dig much of this up ~ nice to know it has a use. I shall definitely try sucking the honey from the next flowers I find! 🙂

  2. A very knowledgeable and experienced Japanese-American forager, who knew Japanese and American edibles plants and mushrooms very well, told me that people in Japan dip the flowers of this plant in batter and deep-fry them, and have been doing so for centuries. This was 20 years ago, and I haven’t run into her since, but I consider her to be a reliable source of info.

  3. Hi Robin, I’ve been eating the young shoots of this plant for years- my Italian grandmother calls it ‘wild asparagus’ as it looks very similar. We boil it twice- once with vinegar, salt and a little sugar to counteract the bitterness, drain it and then boil it again in salted water. We then preserve it in olive oil. I’ve done extensive research on the internet and various social media sites and there is absolutely no literature that I can come across about the culinary uses of it! No one in my family who has eaten it over a long period of time has ever encountered any health issues and it is one of my favourite wild edibles, I just wondered whether there’s a chance that it’s just a completely misunderstood plant? Have you ever tried using it yourself?

    • Hi Francesca – Common names are not good to use, hence why using the botanical name means we are both talking the correct plant. It is my understanding that in Italy “wild asparagus” is usually Asparagus acutifolius. And please don’t try and get reliable information from social media! I’ve given up wasting my breath trying to point out the misinformation that abounds. There are even people deliberately giving false information, that could actually get someone killed. Sounds dramatic right? But I kid you not.

  4. It is definitely bindweed, hedge (Calystegia sepium) rather than field that we have been eating for years, I have a couple jars of it in my fridge as we speak! But from your response I feel that there may be some controversy surrounding the plant and I really don’t know enough about it to be advocating its use, I guess I can take my own risks but obviously I don’t want to harm anyone else. It’s sad that people are trying to sabotage the foraging community as amongst the false information, there is quite a lot of useful information that just isn’t in books. I’ve used your website for years and hence why I wanted the opinion of a reputable forager. The strange thing is that my parents swear that they saw it for sale in Lakelands about 10 years ago marketed as ‘wild asparagus’ in olive oil, selling for around £7 a jar. It seems as though it’s completely shrouded in mystery!

  5. Anyone tried the fat white roots ? same family as sweet potato, sometimes the roots can be obtained in good quantities … tried it ? I havn’t

    • Some of the Indigenous Peoples of Australia would harvest blushing bindweed roots and crush them for flour to make dough with. I haven’t tried it myself, but it might be worth a go.

  6. My Chinese neighbor grows the bindweed in raised beds . She sautés It in olive oil and sprinkles salt on it. She cooks it for two minutes

  7. My husband and I went for a drive to look for wild roses for our garden and I came across this plant and instantly fell in love. I haven’t tried eating it. We’re trying to root a small cutting as the actual roots were impossible to get to. I’ve read that it’s extremely aggressive, so I’m thinking about going a ways into our woods to plant it as opposed to putting it in the garden. But a raised bed of it might be nice and easier to control. I love most weeds. It’s sad that people aren’t being educated about the uses and benefits of FREE foods and medicinals. Is there a photo out there of a plant someone is eating from? That would put me more at ease.

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