White Bryony; Bryonia dioica

There are two Bryony species that you could encounter in the woods and hedgerows, White Bryony and Black Bryony. They are similar in the way they grow, both climb up through other plants and wind themselves around their stems , also they have similar fruits although White bryony has red fruits when ripe and Black Bryony has dark purple fruits. However the two plants are not related.

There are several other differences, White Bryony has hairy leaves, they are actually quite rough, also the fruits have little hairs on them. White Bryony has tendrils and the Black Bryony does not. You can see some of these features on the slide show below. I have just one photo of the ripe (red) berries, I suspect the birds eat them quite quickly after they ripen which is why I do not see them that often.

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As you can see the flowers are greenish white with the veins showing up in green. It has 5 petals and the male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. That’s why it is called dioica. This species is in fact in the cucumber and marrow family (Cucurbitaceae) and is the only wild species of this family found in the UK. You might well come across marrows and melons which have escaped and are growing wild. In southern Europe there is of course the Squirting Cucumber which is great fun for small boys and even grown ups with small boy tendencies!

Finally here is a photo of a Stinkbug on a White Bryony leaf… taken in France summer 2018. I think it is called a Southern Green Stinkbug ( Nezara viridula ) that’s according to web site by the chemical company Bayer. Actually they call themselves Crop scientists…. sounds better doesn’t it. To be fair they do suggest the best way to control this bug is by planting other species around the edge of a field which will attract the bugs away from the crop.



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