Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Bryony, the popular name of two very dissimilar British climbing plants, Bryonia dioica, the white or red bryony, a cucurbitaceous plant, and Tamus communis, the black bryony, belonging to the monocotyledonous order Dioscoreaceae. The white bryony, the only British cucurbitad, has a tuberous underground stem; downy, edible, annual shoots, resembling asparagus when boiled; tendrils; angular, light-green leaves; dioecious or monoecious greenish-yellow pentamerous flowers with sinuous anthers and a scarlet berry. The tuber and fruit are acrid, emetic and purgative, and the former is sometimes sold by herbalists as "mandrake." The black bryony, the only British representative of the yams (Dioscoreaceae), has also an acrid tuber which sends up shoots that are edible when boiled. It climbs by twining, having no tendrils; has heart-shaped, acuminate, glossy dark-green leaves, which turn bronze-purple in autumn; inconspicuous trimerous flowers in greenish racemes and red berries. The name bryony comes from the Greek bruo, to grow, in allusion to the rapid growth of the annual shoots.