Plant of the Month – June 2014

AUSTRALIAN BINDWEED

(Convolvulus angustissimus)

       

   (Photos: E. Cousins, C. Schultz, Cape Jervis)

This is a low-growing creeper, only about 15cm high, but with a spread up to 1.5 m. Convolvulus is from the Latin for “to twine around”; angust is for “narrow”, and issimus for “greatest degree”, perhaps a reference to the multi-lobed leaf shape on mature plants? The leaf shape actually changes along the stem as plants mature: young leaves are smooth and almost shield-shaped, but after a year leaves are narrow and branched. The trumpet-shaped flowers are pink when open, but last only a day, like many other forms of convolvuli. Luckily, the flowering period can be quite long, from early spring to mid-autumn. The black, hard seed normally matures from October-May, after the papery fruits turn brown and brittle.  Extracts obtained by boiling the whole plant were used by Aboriginals to treat diarrhoea and stomach ache (Greening Australia); as well, taproots were used as a food source when the yam daisy was out of season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.