Morning glory, Bindweed


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Biodegradable 228 Plant-based 167

Morning glory, Bindweed

Photos: Marni Bowman

Good Morning Glory

Calystegia sepium, commonly known as Hedge Bindweed or Morning Glory, is a pervasive and ruthless alien plant. Throughout Vancouver, Canada, it can be seen engulfing fences, posts, and native plants. Introduced from Europe, Morning Glory has numerous competitive advantages which has allowed it to overwhelm ecosystems, winding through and up native species to out-compete for light and nutrients. It is not currently regulated anywhere in British Columbia, Canada, and spreads freely with each growing season. As climate change modelling predicts a warmer and drier future for Metro Vancouver, Morning Glory is positioned to not only survive - but thrive.

The morning glory vine displays heart-shaped leaves with a large, funnel-shaped flower. The name of the plant family comes from the Latin word "convolvere", which means "to wind". Twisting in a counter-clockwise direction around any and all nearby supports, the vines can reach a length of 4 meters, while below ground the fleshy roots can spread up to 2 meters across, and 5 meters down. A new plant can develop from root fragments as small as 3 centimetres, and seeds can survive for years in the soil. Morning Glory is drought tolerant, has an extended growing season, and spreads quickly. Interestingly, bindweed flowers do provide pollen for bees and the leaves are a source of food for the larvae of convolvulus hawk moths.

As the eradication of Morning Glory from the ecosystem seems increasingly unlikely, can our relationship with this plant evolve from adversarial to collaborative? Can we use its adaptive properties to our benefit, building invasive species management into the design practice?

For this project, Morning Glory roots were harvested from the property in early spring and relocated, using soil from the site. Throughout the unseasonably hot and dry summer, little to no management was needed, the plants were watered a total of 5 times. Using simple winding and tying techniques, the vines were trained to follow a woven pattern with thick lateral shoots that appeared mid-season spanning the frame and providing the main support. Once the project was complete, the roots were dug up and placed in the garbage to be destroyed.

Invasivorism, the practice of eating invasive species to extinction, is being increasingly discussed as a means of pest management. In theory, by creating a profit from these species’ unfettered proliferation we reap multiple benefits, but there’s an inherent danger in adding a value to that we wish to eradicate as we counter-intuitively are incentivising its preservation. What the Good Morning Glory project seeks to explore is how design can be used as a tool for small-scale initiatives, where the designer plays an active role in the life cycle of the plant. Through fostering a relationship with the plant through its use, we as well become active participants in its responsible disuse. Furthermore, by removing the burden of invasive species management from institutions, particularly in places where no management plan currently exists, we stand to make a greater impact through localised interventions that use Morning Glory’s competitive advantage to our advantage.

Additional information

The aluminium chair frame is designed and fabricated to withstand the outdoor elements. While the morning glory can twine around various structures, the diameter should be no greater than 3". The morning glory roots are dug up in early spring from an infested area and relocated to a chosen space along with some soil from the site. Conversely, the structure may also be placed in the infested area without relocating the roots in order to maximise the growing season and make use of an already established plant. Once the structure is in place, a fishing line can be used to guide the vine and provide a climbing structure as it starts to emerge from the ground. The fast-growing plant should be directed daily, especially in mid to late summer. The vines are wound around the structure and fishing line in a counterclockwise direction and can be carefully tied with a simple knot and trimmed once they're reached their destination. Lateral shoots appear mid-season and will also need to be woven daily. Though no heat stress was seen during the duration of the Good Morning Glory project, the leaves will exhibit some wilting if the roots need to be watered. In mid-fall, the plants are trimmed at the soil and tied off, and the structure is removed. All roots are dug up and disposed of in the garbage to be destroyed and are not to be placed in the compost in order to avoid further spread of the plant.

Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.


Morning glory, bindweed.