Herbs & Plants

White Bryony (Bryonia alba)

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Botanical Name :Bryonia alba
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Bryonia
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
Phylum: Spermatophyta
Subclass: Dilleniidae
Order: Violales
Species: B. alba

Common names: Kudzu of the Northwest, Devil’s Turnip, English Mandrake,
false mandrake, wild vine, and wild hops, wild nep, tamus, ladies’ seal, and tetterbury.

Habitat :White bryony is native to Europe and Northern Iran. It was first reported in the United States in 1975. It probably arrived as a medicinal plant; used to induce vomiting, the plant and berries are poisonous to people. Forty berries constitutes a lethal dose for adult humans.

Currently identified in only four states (Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming) this invasive species is declared a Class B noxious weed. This classification indicates that bryony is already abundant in many areas. Containment is the goal in those areas, but it is to be prevented/eradicated in new regions.Vineyards and woods.Woodland Garden; Dappled Shade; Hedgerow;


An herbaceous, perennial vine of the cucumber family, white bryony is monoecious but diclinous (separate male and female flowers found on the same plant) with a tuberous yellow root. Greenish-white flowers are 1 cm across. Long curling tendrils, flowers, and fruit all stem from axils of palmately lobed leaves. The fruit is a 1.5 cm berry which blackens as it ripens, and seeds of which are disseminated by birds.


White bryony thrives in full sun. Due to birds depositing seeds where they like to eat and nest, bryony is prevalent in native hawthorn patches and in windbreak, shelterbelt, riparian buffer, and wildlife plantings.

This invasive weed grows aggressively; it can produce three vines at a time, which each grow up to 15 cm per day. Since the growth pattern of the vine leads it to climb, it emulates the growth pattern of kudzu, and will also simply grow into a mat when it cannot climb. Once it establishes itself, it will climb other plants and trees as well as fences and buildings. Effectively blocking the sun and even rain from its host, the dense shade of the bryony eventually destroys what it covers. If not the lack of sun, then winter snow or heavy rains weighing down the mat of bryony create too much extra weight leading to breakage of host limbs or even felling of entire host trees.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

A rapid grower, it is of easy cultivation succeeding in most soils that are well drained[1], avoiding acid soils in the wild[17]. A climbing plant, attaching itself to other plants by means of tendrils. Plants can be easily encouraged by scattering ripe seed at the base of hedgerows. Plants in the north of their range are monoecious, but those growing in the south are dioecious. Where necessary, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Bryonia alba spreads by seed.   Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in late winter in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in early spring.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.

One report says that the young shoots are edible, though cautioned .

All parts of Bryonia alba contain bryonin which is poisonous and may cause illness or death. Livestock may also be poisoned by consuming the fruit and leaves. Forty berries constitutes a lethal dose for adult humans.

Medicinal Uses


The root is cathartic, hydrogogue, irritant, pectoral and purgative. The root is harvested in the autumn and can be used either fresh or dried. It should be used with great caution, see notes above on toxicity. The fresh root, gathered before the plant comes into flower, is made into a homeopathic remedy. This is used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints. It is said to be one of the best diuretics and an excellent remedy for gravel as well as all other obstructions and disorders of the urinary passage.

Other Uses:
Birds are the most common dispersal mechanism for this plant. They deposit seeds where they eat and nest, and so bryony is prevalent in native hawthorn patches and in windbreak, shelterbelt, riparian buffer, and wildlife plantings. Bryonia alba leaves may be used as a food plant by the larvae of Cabbage Moths.

Known Hazards: All parts of the plant, and especially the root, are poisonous. The root can cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting, resulting in death within a matter of hours.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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