25th September 2014

Swags of Black Bryony berries can be seen at this time of year, draped through hedgerows in many parts of the country. They may look tempting but all parts of the plant are poisonous, containing saponins and histamine, making them extreme irritants, too. Unrelated to the White Bryony (more another time), Black Bryony is our

The distinctive 'ace of spades' shaped , dark glossy leaves of Black Byony

The distinctive ‘ace of spades’ shaped , dark glossy leaves of Black Bryony

The inconspicuous flowers of Black Bryony, some beginning to form green berries .

The inconspicuous flowers of Black Bryony, on shoots from the climbing stalks .

only native member of the Yam family. The shoots grow up in spring, twining like vines through branches of other hedgerow plants but they are only really conspicuous

Black Bryonies red berries form as their leaves yellow and fall.

Black Bryony’s red berries form as their leaves yellow and fall.

Long necklaces of Black Bryony berries adorn hedgerows long after all their leaves have dropped.

Long necklaces of Black Bryony berries adorn hedgerows long after all their leaves have died.

when the berries turn from green to red. The flowers, too, are less obvious- small greenish-yellow six-petalled flowers among the dark, glossy, heart-shaped leaves. The name may come from the darkness of the leaves, or from the near-black tuber, which was endowed in ancient times with magical powers,  probably due to the hallucinogenic properties of its toxins. Following the ancient European belief in the magic powers of Mandrakes roots, and due to no Mandrakes growing in Britain, White Bryony was known and used in traditions such as Wicca, as a substitute Mandrake, and Black Bryony as a Womandrake. Conditions: A cool, dry and cloudy day with a gentle breeze. Temperature: One of those unusual days when the night and day temperatures are stable, Max 16- Min 16C.    

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