My choice of wildflower for this month is Field Bindweed or Lesser Bindweed (Columbine arvensis), in French it is called Liseron des Champs It is often found growing along the sides of the roads, particularly at the very edge where it will spread out into the road a little bit, It seems quite happy growing in with the gravel that accumulates at the sides of the roads. Similarly it is also sometimes found on railway tracks though I suggest you do not go looking for it there. It makes me wonder if before the days of roads this was a plant that originated on scree slopes.
There are quite a few plants that as a result of mans activities are now found a long way from their natural habitat. One that comes to mind is Sea scurvy grass which is now found along many motorways in the UK especially the central reservation. The reason is that this plant, coming from salt marshes, is quite tolerant of high salt levels which most plants are not and so with the gritters out every winter the soil next to motorways builds up a fairly high salt concentration, which Sea scurvy grass can cope with. Also the cars zapping along at high-speed help to spread the seeds far inland so it is now found all over the country not just by the sea. Anyway as usual I digress so back to the Bindweed.
It is called Bindweed because it will wind its way round the stems of other plants and thus gain a more elevated position where it can get more light and attract more bees. When a plant moves to a stimulus it is called a tropism and when that stimulus is touch it is Thigmotropism, ‘not a lot of people know that’.
Field Bindweed has medicinal uses as a mild laxative and as a diuretic, so do not go eating the leaves unless you really need to!
The flowers are quite attractive and can vary quite a lot, some are almost pure white and others are more pink, the ones in the photograph probably show the most pink you ever find. They flower throughout the summer but not much before June and are at their peak in July and August. The flowers will open up in the sunshine and fold up in the shade. Whilst it is a very attractive flower, it can be a nightmare in your garden. The roots will penetrate down to about 3/4 meters so it is difficult to eradicate. The only thing you can do is to keep pulling it up and not let it develop, then with time it will weaken the plants and it can be eliminated. You could use chemicals but I prefer not to.
For more plants from the Poitou-Charentes region click on Wild flowers of Poitou-Charentes