BELLBIND LADY'S NIGHTCAP





(Convolvulus sepium; Calystegia sepium of Gray) Morning-glory

family



Flowers - Light pink, with white stripes or all white,

bell-shaped, about 2 in. long, twisted in the bud, solitary, on

long peduncles from leaf axils. Calyx of 5 sepals, concealed by 2

large bracts at base. Corolla 5-lobed, the 5 included stamens

inserted on its tube; style with 2 oblong stigmas. Stem: Smooth

or hairy, 3 to 10 ft. long, twining or trailing over ground.

Leaves: Triangular or arrow-shaped, 2 to 5 in. long, on slender

petioles.

Preferred Habitat - Wayside hedges, thickets, fields, walls.

Flowering Season - June-September.

Distribution - Nova Scotia to North Carolina, westward to

Nebraska. Europe and Asia.



No one need be told that the pretty, bell-shaped pink and white

flower on the vigorous vine clambering over stone walls and

winding about the shrubbery of wayside thickets in a suffocating

embrace is akin to the morning-glory of the garden trellis (C.

major). An exceedingly rapid climber, the twining stem often

describes a complete circle in two hours, turning against the

sun, or just contrary to the hands of a watch. Late in the

season, when an abundance of seed has been set, the flower can

well afford to keep open longer hours, also in rainy weather; but

early in the summer, at least, it must attend to business only

while the sun shines and its benefactors are flying. Usually it

closes at sundown. On moonlight nights, however, the hospitable

blossom keeps open for the benefit of certain moths. In Europe

the plant's range is supposed to be limited to that of a

crepuscular moth (Sphinx convolvuli), and where that benefactor

is rare, as in England, the bindweed sets few seeds where it does

not occur, as in Scotland, this convolvulus is seldom found wild;

whereas in Italy Delpino tells of catching numbers of the moths

in hedges overgrown with the common plant, by standing with thumb

and forefinger over a flower, ready to close it when the insect

has entered. We know that every floral clock is regulated by the

hours of flight of its insect friends. When they have retired,

the flowers close to protect nectar and pollen from useless

pilferers. In this country various species of bees chiefly

fertilize the bindweed blossoms. Guided by the white streaks, or

pathfinders, they crawl into the deep tube and sip through one of

the five narrow passages leading to the nectary. A transverse

section of the flower cut to show these five passages standing in

a circle around the central ovary looks like the end of a

five-barreled revolver. Insects without a suitably long proboscis

are, of course, excluded by this arrangement.



>From July until hard frost look for that exquisite little beetle,

Cassida aurichalcea, like a drop of molten gold, clinging beneath

the bindweed's leaves. The small perforations reveal his hiding

places. "But you must be quick if you would capture him," says

William Hamilton Gibson, "for he is off in a spangling streak of

glitter. Nor is this golden sheen all the resource of the little

insect; for in the space of a few seconds, as you hold him in

your hand, he has become a milky, iridescent opal, and now

mother-of-pearl, and finally crawls before you in a coat of dull

orange." A dead beetle loses all this wonderful luster. Even on

the morning-glory in our gardens we may sometimes find these

jeweled mites, or their fork-tailed, black larvae, or the tiny

chrysalids suspended by their tails, although it is the wild

bindweed that is ever their favorite abiding place.



The small FIELD BINDWEED (C. arvensis), a common immigrant from

Europe, which has taken up its abode from Nova Scotia and Ontario

southward to New Jersey, and westward to Kansas, trails over the

ground with a deathless persistency which fills farmers with

dismay. It is like a small edition of the hedge bind weed, only

its calyx lacks the leaf-like bracts at its base, its slender

stem rarely exceeds two feet in length, and the little pink and

white flowers often grow in pairs. Their habit of closing both in

the evening and in rainy weather indicates that they are adapted

for diurnal insects only; but if the bell hang down, or if the

corolla drop off, the pollen must fall on the stigma and effect

self-fertilization. Many more insects visit this flower than the

large bindweed, attracted by the peculiar fragrance, and led by

the white streaks to the orange-colored under surface of the

ovary, where the nectar lies concealed. Stigmas and anthers

mature at the same time; but as the former are slightly the

longer, they receive pollen brought from another flower before

the visitor gets freshly dusted.





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