Bryonia

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Bryonia

 

(bryony), a genus of monoecious or dioecious plants of the family Cucurbitaceae. The plants are perennial herbs with thickened tuberous roots and climbing stems. Simple tendrils attach the stems to a support. The leaves are five-angled, five-lobed, or deeply divided; sometimes the leaves are entire. The unisexual, regular flowers are greenish yellow and are borne in axillary inflorescences. The perianth is five-parted, and the corolla is almost rotate. The fruit is a spherical berry.

There are approximately ten species of Bryonia, distributed in Southern Europe, the Caucasus, Central and Southwest Asia, and North Africa. Four or five species are found in the USSR, in the Crimea, the Caucasus, and Middle Asia. The plants have both been imported and grow wild in the central and southern zones of the European USSR. They grow among shrubs, on the edge of forests, and along river valleys. The herbs also grow as weeds near dwellings.

The most common species are B. alba and B. dioica. B. alba is monoecious and has black fruit; B. dioica, a dioecious species, has red or yellow fruit. Both species are poisonous: they contain the glycosides bryonin and bryonidin. The roots are used as analgesic, styptic, expectorant, laxative, and wound-healing substances. The bryony is used to decorate balconies, summer houses, and walls.

REFERENCE

Atlas lekarstvennykh rastenii SSSR. Moscow, 1962.

T. V. EGOROVA

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The latter is made from wild hops which are extremely rare this far north, but the brewer knows of a site in south Wirral which he keeps top secret.
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