My back yard, about 1/8 acre or 500 m2, is covered in convolvulus (and wandering willy). It's even coming up in the middle of my raised beds that I protected with cardboard ( should have used weed mat ). Normally they tell you to dispose of it removing from the property but that seems like a loss of nutrient from the land in that it violates the law of return.

Is there a safe way to extract the nutrient? I can't drown it, solarize, or bag it up. And I lack enough browns to safely hot compost it.


  • Hi Graham! Would you kindly clarify this question? Are you trying to remove the plant without causing the soil to lose nutrients it has been providing? If so, would you re-word the title to reflect that? Do you want to remove the plant to get the nutrients from it for medicinal purposes? Sorry to say, but if that's the case, the question's not on topic. See this page in our help center, and this meta question for explanation. Thanks! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Feb 2 '16 at 21:14
  • The former. Any answers on plants that can out compete this noxious weed would be appreciated, as well as ways to kill it, but keep the nutrients ( calcium etc ) within the bounds of my garden. – Graham Chiu Feb 2 '16 at 21:22
  • That's what I thought you meant. Thanks for the clarification and the helpful edits! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Feb 2 '16 at 21:23
  • Might be ripe for a system I've toyed with formalizing - but it approaches one definition of "solarizing," albeit not what is usually meant by that in gardening terms (long-term covering an area with plastic.) That being a "solar oven for weeds" - an insulated glass or plastic-faced box for the express purpose of thermally deactivating weed material WITHOUT having a "reliable hot compost" for the purpose. just get the stuff heated up enough that it can't grow or sprout, dump it out to be warm/cold compost or mulch or dug in, and cycle in a new batch. But I haven't actually done it well yet. – Ecnerwal Feb 9 '16 at 1:53
  • I have tried "cold frames" over piles of weeds in the hot summer sun, and it's not effective, so I think it needs to step up to something where the hot air can move all around the weed material, rather than sitting on the ground. Does not rate being an answer as it's not proven, so just a comment or two. – Ecnerwal Feb 9 '16 at 1:55

No, there isn't a safe way to release any nutrients it has - frankly, I wouldn't even risk adding it to an aerobic, hot compost system. Convulvulus has the ability to regenerate from the tiniest fragment of root (as does Japanese knotweed, which is usually burned by specialist contractors after removal), so I'd be burning it (if you're allowed to) or disposing of it away from my property, as you've already been advised.

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  • +1. Burn it to ashes first, then consider using it for nutrient value. – GardenerJ Feb 1 '16 at 14:16
  • Everyone who has passed through the back yard has told me it's convolvulus, but on closer inspection, and using Dr Google, it might be hedge bindweed or Calystegia sepium, also called convolvulus sepium. The plant has the ability to extract calcium from the soil, and the leaves and roots are edible. So I guess I could eat it all up. – Graham Chiu Feb 2 '16 at 1:37
  • So presumably if I remove the roots, and any flowers, it would be safe to compost. The roots I can dry in the sun before adding to the compost. – Graham Chiu Feb 2 '16 at 23:19
  • If you wish - but it doesn't change my answer, because I wouldn't risk it. – Bamboo Feb 3 '16 at 11:04

The medicinal part of most Convolvulus species is the root. They're contact laxatives, that is, they will make you poo very effectively. They work by irritating the gut walls.

They're not currently used, though, because there are less painful laxatives. (Scammony is a convolvulus.)

Here's a lot of information about a few medicinal convolvuluses, with texts from a few old medicinal herb books: Scammony, Field Bindweed, Greater Bindweed

I quite like this tidbit from Sturtevant on greater bindweed (Calystegia sepium): "Calystegia sepium R. Br. Convolvulaceae. Bindweed.

Temperate climates. It has edible stalks which are eaten by the Hindus. The roots are said to be boiled and eaten by the Chinese, who manage, says Smith, to cook and digest almost every root or tuber in spite of the warnings of botanists and chemists."

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  • This answer has nothing to do with the question asked. – Ecnerwal Feb 9 '16 at 1:45

I had the section cleared of most of the unplanned vegetation many months ago, and the trees felled and placed in a pile in preparation for a hugelkultur. However, other things intervened with my time, and the bindweed has now grown over the pile of trees which is over 6 foot tall. So, until the wood decomposes and collapses on top of the bindweed, I'm going to have an inexhaustible supply!

Charles Dowding in this article rid his property of the same pest with dark plastic covers but I don't have enough for this task. But I've laid some down that was left over from some construction. I've placed bindweed that I've pulled from the garden over the plastic to dry. And in the tradition of Ruth Stout, I'm placing the dried bindweed down as a mulch in my corn patch. Since bindweed is sprouting anyway from that patch, I'm not adding anything that wasn't already present. As the mulch compacts, I'll keep adding more bindweed mulch.

I shall update this to see if it causes me any problems.

bindweed over growing the wood pile

drying out the bindweed

Using the bindweed as a mulch

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