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Useful Temperate Plants

Bryonia alba

L.

Cucurbitaceae

+ Synonyms

Bryonia dioica M.Bieb.

Bryonia monoeca E.H.L.Krause

Bryonia nigra Gilib.

Bryonia vulgaris Gueldenst. ex Ledeb.

Common Name: White Bryony

No Image.

General Information

Bryonia alba is a herbaceous, perennial, climbing plant producing branching stems up to 4 metres long from a tuberous rootstock.The stems scramble over the ground, climbing into the surrounding vegetation where they attach themselves by means of tendrils[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
The plant has been used in the past as a medicine, and possibly also as a food, though both these uses should be viewed with some caution. The plant is also sometimes encouraged as an ornamental in hedgerows.

Known Hazards

All parts of the plant, and especially the root, are poisonous[
232
Title
The Complete Homeopathy Handbook.
Publication
 
Author
Castro. M.
Publisher
Macmillan. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-333-55581-3
Description
A concise beginner's guide to the subject. Very readable.
].
Taken orally, the root can cause dizziness, vomiting, convulsions, colic, bloody diarrhoea, abortion, nervous excitement, and kidney damage. Large doses can cause anuria, collapse, spasms, paralysis, and death.
Applied topically, skin contact with fresh root may cause irritation.
Ingestion of 15 berries is likely to be fatal to a child., whilst ingestion of 40 berries is likely to be fatal for adults

Botanical References

74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Central Europe - Poland and Germany east to Ukraine and Greece; E. Asia - Caucasus and Turkey to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan

Habitat

Vineyards and woods[
232
Title
The Complete Homeopathy Handbook.
Publication
 
Author
Castro. M.
Publisher
Macmillan. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-333-55581-3
Description
A concise beginner's guide to the subject. Very readable.
]. Shrubby formations, forest edges, ravines, as a weed in orchards[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. Found especially in dry soils, preferring rocky slopes in the mountainous areas, dry riverbeds or even sand dunes[
1201
Title
Bryonia alba L. and Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. - Two related species of the Cucurbitaceae family with importa
Publication
Farmacia, 2016, Vol 64, 3 pp 323-332
Author
Irina Ielciu; Michel Feédérich; Monique Tits; Luc Angenot; R
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
HabitPerennial Climber
Height3.00 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsBees
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details


A rapid grower, it is of easy cultivation succeeding in most soils that are well drained[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
], avoiding acid soils in the wild[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant, with a large tuber that helps to store water[
1201
Title
Bryonia alba L. and Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. - Two related species of the Cucurbitaceae family with importa
Publication
Farmacia, 2016, Vol 64, 3 pp 323-332
Author
Irina Ielciu; Michel Feédérich; Monique Tits; Luc Angenot; R
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
 
Description
 
].
Plants can be easily encouraged by scattering ripe seed at the base of hedgerows[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Plants in the north of their range are monoecious, but those growing in the south are dioecious[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Where necessary, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Edible Uses

One report says that the young shoots are edible[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
], though caution is advised[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. See the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal

Bryonia alba is little used in modern herbalism, though there is significant research interest into the biologically active compounds it contains - paricularly cucurbitacins, but also flavonoids, sterols, lectins, amino acids, lipids and trihydroxyoctadecadienoic acids[
1201
Title
Bryonia alba L. and Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. - Two related species of the Cucurbitaceae family with importa
Publication
Farmacia, 2016, Vol 64, 3 pp 323-332
Author
Irina Ielciu; Michel Feédérich; Monique Tits; Luc Angenot; R
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
 
Description
 
].
Cucurbitacins are found in important amounts in the roots and provide cytotoxic effects or even antitumor activities. The most cytotoxic cucurbitacins seem to be cucurbitacin B, D, E and I, but the others present nevertheless moderate activity[
1201
Title
Bryonia alba L. and Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. - Two related species of the Cucurbitaceae family with importa
Publication
Farmacia, 2016, Vol 64, 3 pp 323-332
Author
Irina Ielciu; Michel Feédérich; Monique Tits; Luc Angenot; R
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
 
Description
 
].
The trihydroxyoctadecadienoic acids in the roots exhibit hypoglycaemic activity, and can even correct major abnormalities typical in severe diabetes mellitus. Other studies state that the same compounds may exhibit preventive atherogenic or antiatherosclerotic activities[
1201
Title
Bryonia alba L. and Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. - Two related species of the Cucurbitaceae family with importa
Publication
Farmacia, 2016, Vol 64, 3 pp 323-332
Author
Irina Ielciu; Michel Feédérich; Monique Tits; Luc Angenot; R
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
 
Description
 
].
Studies have also shown that the root extract has hepatoprotective activity; and that it also exerts a protective activity for human cells against endogenous oxidative DNA damage[
1201
Title
Bryonia alba L. and Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. - Two related species of the Cucurbitaceae family with importa
Publication
Farmacia, 2016, Vol 64, 3 pp 323-332
Author
Irina Ielciu; Michel Feédérich; Monique Tits; Luc Angenot; R
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
 
Description
 
].
The roots can also increase nitric oxide levels in humans, which can be responsible for the adaptation of the human organism to heavy physical exercise, but is also responsible for numerous inflammatory processes[
1201
Title
Bryonia alba L. and Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. - Two related species of the Cucurbitaceae family with importa
Publication
Farmacia, 2016, Vol 64, 3 pp 323-332
Author
Irina Ielciu; Michel Feédérich; Monique Tits; Luc Angenot; R
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
 
Description
 
].
The roots are also widely known for their adaptogen activity, which some sources associate to the content of cucurbitacins (especially cucurbitacin R diglucoside), which enhance the sensitivity level to stress, due to the effects of eicosanoids and corticosteroid[
1201
Title
Bryonia alba L. and Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. - Two related species of the Cucurbitaceae family with importa
Publication
Farmacia, 2016, Vol 64, 3 pp 323-332
Author
Irina Ielciu; Michel Feédérich; Monique Tits; Luc Angenot; R
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
 
Description
 
]. Adaptogens are substances that have a generally positive effect upon various bodily systems, bringing about a general improvement in human health. They are meant to be free from negative side-effects, which we would have thought would exclude this species from being labelled an adaptogen[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

The root is cathartic, hydrogogue, irritant, pectoral and purgative[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
]. It has been used in the treatment of dropsy[
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
].
The root is harvested in the autumn and can be used either fresh or dried[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].
The root 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[
232
Title
The Complete Homeopathy Handbook.
Publication
 
Author
Castro. M.
Publisher
Macmillan. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-333-55581-3
Description
A concise beginner's guide to the subject. Very readable.
]. This is used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints[
232
Title
The Complete Homeopathy Handbook.
Publication
 
Author
Castro. M.
Publisher
Macmillan. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-333-55581-3
Description
A concise beginner's guide to the subject. Very readable.
]. 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[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

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.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2022-10-07. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Bryonia+alba>

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