Black Bryony - Dioscorea communis is a poisonous plant

Black Bryony - Dioscorea communis (Tamus communis)
Family - Dioscoreaceae
Also known as - Lady's-seal, Black Bindweed

This plant is very poisonous.

This plant was incorrectly identified for its presence Brickfields Country Park, however the species information is correct as Black Bryony - Dioscorea communis.  This page has been left on the Brickfields Park site to maintain any links that point to it from elsewhere on the web.

A climbing plant similar in appearance and habit to Hedge Bindweed, but growing to between 2–4m (6.5-13ft) tall from a tuber, which puts it in the same family as the Yam, it is the only member of the family to be found in the U.K.  It is widespread in Europe, north Africa and western Asia.  A common plant of the forest understory, hedges, woods and similar habitats, with weak stems twining clockwise around anything within reach, climbing or creeping amongst trees, bushes and undergrowth.  Heart-shaped pointed leaves 10cm long by 8cm wide (4in by 3in), with a petiole up to 5cm (2in) long, are smooth with a shiny appearance as if they have been varnished, turning dark purple or bright yellow, the stems die down in the winter.  The rootstock is perennial rhizome (tuber) which can become quite large and support several plants.  Small greenish-white dioecious flowers with six petals in 5–10cm (2-4in) racemes some of which can be infertile, usually on one plant, fertile flowers mature to shiny bright red berries when ripe.  Racemes of female ♀ flowers are shorter than the male ♂. The large, fleshy root high in starch is black on the outside and very acrid, and extremely poisonous, various parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystals, histamines, saponins and a glycoside in the berries and rhizomes.

Three species of Bryony are found in Europe, Asia & North Africa, they have been subject to some discussion in plant literature from an early misidentification by some botanists.  All have a similar climbing habit, one species with black fruit and some with red, transposition of the fruits colour when originally identified, along with the "alba" epithet used to describe the flower colour of one species as opposed to the fruit colour of the others, gave rise to the confusion of species names.

Black Bryony - Dioscorea communis, click for a larger image, photo licensed for reuse CCASA3.0
Photo ©2005 - Lumbar
Black Bryony - Dioscorea communis, click for a larger image, photo licensed for reuse CCASA3.0
Photo ©2008 - Hectonichus
Black Bryony - Dioscorea communis, click for a larger image, image is in the public domain
Picture 1885 - Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé
Click any photo for a larger image

Click here to go to the Brickfields Park main site

Site design ©1999- Brickfields Country Park - Privacy -