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Learning From Weeds: Part 4 [Entrepreneurship
Posted on September 24, 2014 @ 10:39:00 AM by Paul Meagher

In today's contribution to my series on Learning from Weeds (see part 1, part 2, part 3), I want to discuss an invasive weed called Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis L.) and some of its entrepreneurial qualities. Bindweed is a cosmopolitan plant, meaning it can be found abundantly in most areas of the world that are warm and temperate. It is a very difficult weed to get rid off and is the bane of many gardeners existence once it gets established. It can cause headaches for vegetable farmers if it gets established in vegetable fields as it competes for space, nutrients, sun, and water with the plants around it. It thrives in the disturbed soil of a vegetable growing patch.

Recently I noticed some bindweed in a row of potatoes I was digging out. I must have gotten it while it was young because I appear to have been able to pull the small root system it had out of the ground. Good thing, because if I didn't get it all, then the bindweed can grow back from the pieces of severed root left behind (i.e, pieces 2 inches or greater called rhizomes). Many gardeners can unwittingly propagate bindweed by doing an insufficient removal of the root system when they are weeding it out.

If bindweed was an entrepreneur that entrepreneur would be a very resilient entrepreneur. Just when you think the entrepreneur is down for the count, the bindweed entrepreneur splits apart and forms smaller companies to continue the legacy. If the bindweed entrepreneur loses a big deal (gets mostly weeded out) then it is capable of surviving as several smaller companies until one or more of those companies takes off again.

One lesson that bindweed teaches us is the power of resilience. The ability to take the hits and come back. Being competitive is important for starting, growing, and sustaining a business, but so is resilience - the ability to bounce back from a bad event. Bindweed has resilient and competitive properties that explain why it is such a successful weed.

The bindweed infographic below provides a few more details, including a visual, on field bindweed. You can also find an amusing gardening story on morning glory/bindweed here.

Addendum: As I researched bindweed more, I realized that the plant I dug up in my potato patch was not field bindweed, it was wild buckwheat (Polygonum convolvulus) instead - a plant that is often mistaken for bindweed because they are from the same Convulvus genus. It is not as serious an invasive threat as bindweed because it is more of an annual than a perennial. The seeds of wild buckwheat were apparently part of our bronze age diet when we were hunter-gatherers. You have to be careful, however, about eating seeds from other members of the Convulvus genus.

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