categoryZClimbers Climbers List 
categoryZDeciduous Deciduous List 

BLACK BRYONY

Tamus communis

Yam Family [Dioscoreaceae]  

Flowers:
month8May month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept
Berries: berryZpossible        berryZgreen berryZred  (poisonous)
berry8Aug berry8Sep berry8Sept berry8Oct

category
category8Climbers
category
category8Deciduous
status
statusZnative
flower
flower8green
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ6
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZhigh
sex
sexZdioecious

25th Aug 2008, Trowbridge Quarry, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Climbing clockwise up a small tree trunk.


22nd June 2009, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
 Ace-of-Spades shaped dark-green leaves laced with strings of light-green male flowers (which, unlike the female glowers, are in long panicles).


1st Nov 2004, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
No leaves discernible.


25th Aug 2008, Trowbridge Quarry, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Scrambling amongst Ivy leaves


25th Aug 2008, Trowbridge Quarry, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Leaves half dead. Climbing amongst Holly leaves.


25th Aug 2008, Trowbridge Quarry, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Green and red berries amongst leaves belonging to Ivy, another climber.


25th Aug 2008, Trowbridge Quarry, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The dark green, broad and shiny Ace-of-Spades leaves which are net-veined, the veins being highly curved.


25th Aug 2008, Trowbridge Quarry, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
A ripe berry.


27th May 2012, hedge, Macclesfield Canal, Cheshire Photo: © Anthony Skellern
 The male flowers, which differ from the female in that they are in long racemes and are the more numerous : six stamens and six green petals on flower 3-6mm across. (The female flowers are less frequent, have three 2-lobed recurved stigmas and are in more compact clusters).


27th May 2012, hedge, Macclesfield Canal, Cheshire Photo: © Anthony Skellern
 Six green stamens bearing cream-coloured pollen protrude beyond the opening.


22nd June 2009, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
 The flowers are in pairs on short stalks which have very narrow short bracts.


16th June 2009, Little Orme, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
 Flowers have six lime-green satin petals shaped like isosceles triangles with bluntish ends. In the centre a bunch of six stamens protrude and splay outwards near their ends. Un-opened flower buds at top. Note that there are no sepals.


16th June 2009, Little Orme, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
 The six stamens are arranged as three inner plus three outer and bear yellow pollen on the ends. They contrast with the much darker glossy green leaves. ♂


8th May 2009, Strickland, nr Kendal, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Bunches of mature reddish stems having white striations intertwining with themselves. The leaves are glossy and on very dark, almost black (hence the name) ribbed stems.


16th June 2010, Great Orme, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
 Unlike the male flowers, which are in long panicles, the female flowers are in compact bunches at the junction of a pair of leaves.


16th June 2010, Great Orme, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
 The female flowers are all green with a central stigma.


16th June 2010, Great Orme, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
 There are six sterile stamens lacking pollen tucked around the central style which splits into three double-pronged curly stigmas.


16th June 2010, Great Orme, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
 Petals, six sterile stamens and a style with three bi-forked stigmas are all green at first. Short stubby hairs on sepal tube and leaves.


18th June 2015, Little Orme, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
 Flowers turning to creamy-green. Leaves almost translucent by transmitted light.


18th June 2015, Little Orme, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
 Petals matte, leaves shiny.


18th June 2015, Little Orme, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
 Female flower. Note that there are six short, barely protruding, vestigial infertile stamens lacking both anthers and pollen lying inside the six petals.


Superficial resemblance to :

Lookee-Likees : The red berries and its climbing tendencies are similar to White Bryony, but unlike that, it twines clockwise. The leaves of Black Bryony are shaped like the Ace of Spades, whereas those of White Bryony have large long lobes.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics: there is no other plant quite like this.

Distinguishing Feature : Black Bryony has 6 petals, White Bryony only five.

No relation to : White Bryony [a plant with similar name] which belongs to the Marrow Family [Cucurbitaceae], whereas Black Bryony belongs to the Yam Family.

It is a climber which climbs clockwise around other structures, up to 3.5 metres high. It is a monocotyledon. Has both male and female flowers on the same plant, the male in long slender racemes, the female in closer clusters. The flowers are dioecious with male and female flowers on separate plants, with the female flowers also having (much shorter) sterile stamens (without anthers) .

Black Bryony is poisonous due to calcium oxalate crystals found mainly in the red berries. The roots of the plant is also rich in saponins and a glycoside similar to that of Bryonin which is present in White Bryony. The rhizomes contain several methoxy-hydroxy-Phenanthrenes such as 7-hydroxy-2,3,4,8-TetraMethoxy-Phenanthrene (which is not called Flavokavain A as one version of Wikipedia at the moment thinks - for that is a PhenylPropanoid-Phloroglucinol - as are all Flavokavains, aka Flavokawains [which are found in the Kava plant]).

In winter the trailing vines go brown and are left dangling from trees and other supports they have scrambled up.


  Tamus communis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Dioscoreaceae  

Distribution
family8yam family8Dioscoreaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8tamus
Tamus
(Black Bryony)

BLACK BRYONY

Tamus communis

Yam Family [Dioscoreaceae]  

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