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Bryonia dioica, known by the common names red bryony and white bryony, also English mandrake or ladies' seal, 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.
Bryonia 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.
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."
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.
- Sterry, Paul (2006). Collins Complete Guide to British Wild Flowers. London: HarperCollins. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-00-723684-8.
- Grieve, Maud (1971). A Modern Herbal: The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs, & Trees with All Their Modern Scientific Uses, Volume 1. p. 132. ISBN 9780486227986.
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