DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A plant of White Bryony, Bryonia dioica. White Bryony is a climbing plant with a large perennial taproot, native to Central and Southern Europe and the UK. The picture is of a 2 year old plant dug out of the ground in Spring, and shows the taproot and sprouting green shoots. The root, comparatively young, is about 20cm and 5cm in diameter at its thickest. The shoots develop into long stems that scramble up through hedgerow shrubs by the use of tendrils. The root of White Bryony has been used in herbal medicine in the form of a tincture. Active substances in the root include a glycoside ( bryonin ) and an alkaloid ( bryonicine ). Fatal poisoning of cattle has been known to occur following the consumption of roots exposed by excavation work. In Autumn, the plant produces small red fruits which if eaten by humans cause symptoms of mild poisoning, including vomiting and stomach pains.
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