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Tamus communis - L.
                 
Common Name Black Bryony
Family Dioscoreaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards The whole plant is poisonous due to its saponin content[7]. Although toxic, saponins are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K]. The toxic effect of this plant is not caused by saponins, but by calcium oxalate crystals which are found mainly in the fruit[65].
Habitats Hedgerows, scrub, woodland edges and copses, avoiding acid soils[1, 9].
Range Europe, south and east from Britain and Belgium to N. Africa, Hungary, E. Mediterranean, W. Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary

Tamus communis Black Bryony


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illustration_Tamus_communis0.jpg
Tamus communis Black Bryony
   
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Tamus communis is a PERENNIAL CLIMBER growing to 3.5 m (11ft 6in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from Sep to November. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Synonyms

Habitats
Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Hedgerow;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses:

Young shoots - cooked[2, 4, 61, 65]. A decidedly bitter flavour[7]. An asparagus substitute, it is best if the water is changed once whilst cooking[115]. See notes at top of the page regarding possible toxicity.
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiecchymotic;  Antirheumatic;  Cathartic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Haemolytic;  Poultice;  Rubefacient.


The root is antiecchymotic, diuretic, emetic, haemolytic and rubefacient[4, 7, 9]. Use with caution, the plant is rich in saponins, has a very powerful cathartic affect and ranks as a dangerous irritant poison[4, 7]. It is not normally used internally, but the macerated root is applied externally as a poultice to bruises, rheumatic joints etc[4, 7]. This should not be done without expert advice since it can cause painful blisters[9]. The root is used fresh[9] or can be harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[7].
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details
Requires a moist well-drained fertile soil[17]. A climbing plant, the weak stems support themselves by twining around other plants and are capable of growing quite high up into shrubs and trees[4]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Propagation
Seed - sow in a cold frame in early spring or as soon as the seed is ripe in the autumn. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle, and plant out in the summer or in late spring of the following year.

Books by Plants For A Future

Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
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Expert comment
 
Author
L.
Botanical References
17
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
 
Yannis P.
Jun 23 2013 12:00AM
It is definitely necessary to add the roots in the edible uses of this plant. Black bryony tuber was certainly used as a stapple thousands years ago, after a detox procedure comparable to some others tubers like yam or cassava varieties that are also still used as stapples, yet some are deadly without preparation. Aboriginals eat cheeky yam as a stapple, a plant very similar to black bryony, deadly toxic, but since the cheeky yam is actually more nutritious than non-toxic yam varieties, those people go to the trouble of cooking the root, pell it and slice it thin. The slices are placed into a open-weave basket, and the basket is immersed in a stream for one night. The saponins and other poisons wash away. In the morning the root can be eaten raw, and the slices can be made into a cake or a ball by pressing it between the hands. Reference : R. Mears and G. Hillman in "Wild Food"
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Subject : Tamus communis  

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