Comparing the two Bryony’s, (Bryo- Greek for ‘I shoot’) whose ropes of toxic berries are swathing hedgerows now, here is the White Bryony. Unrelated to the Black Bryony (see 10th Sept), this climbs by extraordinary coiled tendrils (see photo’s) and has different-shaped leaves. It is our only wild member of the cucumber family but is toxic. Thought to be an antidote for leprosy in the 14th Century, when it was called ‘Wild Nepit’, the large, tuberous roots were fraudulently peddled as Mandrake. ‘Knaves’ in the 19th Century would dig into the soil, form a mould to shape the roots as they grew, and the dig them up, claiming them for the highly valued
Mandrake with its’ supposed magic properties! Conditions: Cloudy with sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 22- Min 16C.