wild flowers

Nothing is ever just Black or White.

Do you recognise this plant? I didn’t.

Browsing the plant life near to the beach at Snettisham I found something unfamiliar — a large attractive flowering shrub growing in the midst of stinging nettles and thistles with quite leathery leaves. It was blowing a gale, black clouds were heaving overhead and I had no gloves to explore more closely. So I took some photos and made haste to the car park!

Here it is again, note the tendrils and the ivy shaped matt leaves. This is white bryony, Bryonia cretica — a climbing perennial related to squash and cucumber but is poisonous — deaths have been recorded. Even drinking milk from cows that have grazed it can be harmful. This one was climbing all over its neighbours, pretending to be a dense bush. Black berries in Autumn but not to be confused with Black Bryony our familiar hedgerow climbing vine which has red berries — is that clear?

Black bryony, I don’t know why they call it black, is also known as lady’s seal or black bindweed, Tamus communis. It is a member of the yam family, twining clockwise, some say ante-clockwise — I suppose it all depends which way you look at it, or whether it grows in the southern hemisphere! It has no tendrils, the leaves are heart-shaped and shiny and all parts are poisonous containing saponins. Intrepid or very hungry folk evidently eat the new shoots when cooked — not recommended, as even if it doesn’t poison you, picking it may bring you out in a nasty rash.

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