White Bryony

Poisonous Poisonous Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer

A poisonous plant that is a purgative and will give you terrible diarrhoea. The root used to be sold to unfortunate victims as mandrake root with unpleasant results. It has male and female flowers on the same plant although the flowers are very similar.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names White Bryony, English Mandrake.
Scientific Name Bryonia dioica
Season Start Mar
Season End Nov
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


Starting almost arrow head shaped but soon developing into palmate, five lobed leaves.

Male Flowers

Five white to green petals with wavy and orange to yellow edged stamen in the middle.

Female Flowers

Five white to green petals with green three forked stigmas in the middle.


Small rounded berries starting green and turning from red to dark crimson/purple when mature.


Almost anywhere as they spread mainly from seed dispersal by birds but do require a fence or another plant to grow up as they are a fast spreading climber.


Fairly common.

Medicinal Uses

Was used as a laxative in the past but the results were so explosive it is not considered safe for this use anymore.


5 comments for White Bryony

  1. Helen Haines says:

    I can catch the bus to MK. I live in Oxfordshire. I assume you don’t come this way?
    If I can get there I’d be interested.

  2. Guy Bristow says:

    White bryony is poisonous? Here in Slovenia, my adopted home, we eat a lot of it at this time of year (April, May). The young shoots are used as a substitute for wild asparagus, or as a filler. It is plentiful in the woods here, where is it called ‘belushch’ in dialect. When my mum came over from Somerset she identified it as white bryony and said “That’s poisonous!” My wife has been eating it all her life with no ill effect, although I wouldn’t touch older plants with red berries.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      We can not recommend eating White Briony but stories about these things are always interesting.

    2. Karen Elbourne says:

      It is the same here in Turkey. We go along the hedgerows on the farm track I live on and pick it but at only certain times of the yr.
      I old man he picks it to sell it.
      But you have to know what you are picking. I was like your mother because I said exactly the same as I used to dig it out of peoples gardens in the uk as they had animals or children.

  3. Noela Jacobs says:

    Have been trying to buy white Bryony in Australia no success so far it is a natural pain killer that is my reason for the search we don’t want to eat it we want to make a medicine from it noela

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