BLACK BRYONY (Tamus communis)

Black Bryony decorates the hedgerows
alongside the Moreton Road.

Glossy leaves of Black Bryony in early summer.

Chosen as plant of the month not for its flowers, which are tiny, yellowish-green and bloom in late spring or early summer, but for its conspicuous shiny red berries which adorn the hedgerows in autumn. It twines its way up neighbouring shubs or trees sometimes to a height of four metres. A member of the yam family, it is not related to the superficially similar White Bryony (Bryonia cretica), which belongs to the gourd family. The two are easily distinguished: the leaves of the black bryony are glossy and roughly heart-shaped; those of the white bryony are paler green, not glossy and shaped rather like ivy leaves. White bryony climbs by means of tendrils; black bryony has none. The berries and other parts of both black and white bryony are highly poisonous.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey
and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Notes by George Metcalfe. Photos by Colin Wootton.