Bryonia dioica

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Bryonia dioica
P1000627 Bryonia dioica (Cucurbitaceae) Plant.JPG
Red Bryony (B. dioica)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily: Cucurbitoideae
Tribe: Benincaseae
Subtribe: Benincasinae
Genus: Bryonia
Species: B. dioica
Binomial name
Bryonia dioica
Jacq. non M.Bieb. non Bojer non Sessé & Moc.

Bryonia dioica, known by the common names red bryony and white bryony,[1] also English mandrake or ladies' seal,[2] is a perennial climbing vine indigenous to Central and Southern Europe. It is a flowering plant in the cucumber family Cucurbitaceae with five-pointed leaves and blue or white flowers. The vine produces a red berry fruit.


B. dioica is generally toxic to humans. Application of its juice to the skin produces inflammation with a rash or ulcers, and consumption of this juice causes intense gastrointestinal irritation including nausea and vomiting in small doses, and anxiety, paralysis, or death in larger amounts.[citation needed]

The seed of this vine, by contrast, is safely edible, and finds use in Western Europe as an ingredient in starch dishes.[citation needed]


The plant is sometimes used in herbalism. In medieval times the plant was thought to be an antidote for leprosy.[2]

The root can be 75 cm (30 in) long and 75 mm (3.0 in) thick. John Gerard's Herball (1597) states that: "The Queen's chief surgeon, Mr. William Godorous, a very curious and learned gentleman, shewed me a root hereof that waied half an hundredweight, and of the bignes of a child of a yeare old."[2]

It can be used fresh at any time of the year. It can also be harvested in the autumn and be dried for later use.




  • Creynaud J. La flora del farmacéutico. Ediciones Mundi-Prensa, 2002.
  • Bruneton J. Plantas tóxicas, Acribia, Colección: Ciencias biomédicas, 2001.
  • Font P. Plantas medicinales, Labor, 1980.
  • Díaz T. Curso de botánica, Trea ciencias, 2004.
  • Caron M, Clos H. Plantas medicinales, Ediciones Daimon i Manuel Tamayo de 1973.
  • Volz, S. M., and S. S. Renner. 2009. Phylogeography of the ancient Eurasian medicinal plant genus Bryonia (Cucurbitaceae) inferred from nuclear and chloroplast sequences. Taxon 58(2): 550-560.