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Unknown Climber found growing wild in the Midlands ? Cucurbitaceae


I found this growing up a fence that runs along the M6 Toll in the Midlands. I studied horticulture and have a keen interest in growing tropical fruits, vegetables and plants in my garden but have never come across this plant growing wild in the UK? 

I feel with its tendrils, leaf and fruit that it may come from the Cucurbitaceae family. I found 3 plants over a distance of approx 3 miles and they are self-set not planted. Does anyone recognise this plant? and is it native to the UK as well as hardy?

Kind regards


  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,394
    Bryonia dioica, White Bryony. Has lovely strings of red berries later, don't eat them
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,394
    edit doesn't work for me today. Yes, UK plant, hardy as they come.
  • Brilliant, Many thanks. I had neve come across this plant before!.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,394
    I have them green like yours in the garden but this one at the field edge, poor soil and exposed to sun and wind is already fruiting
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 77,483
    They are a beautiful plant ... I remember the first one I ever saw in a field hedgerow as a child and I fell in love with it there and then ... tubers can become huge and the plant can become rampant, but if you have the space and the right sort of garden, they can look phenomenal  <3
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Was thinking of growing one in a large wooden barrel at the front of the house to grow up a large 9 ft plant frame. I now read they are great at attracting pollinating insects/ rare bees and I like it that much due to its tropical yet decorative appearance. I was thinking of keeping it in a large pot due to the large invasive nature of the tuber and plant you tell me about. Also at the front of the house its away from all pets/animals and children due to the highly toxic nature of the plant. What do you think about growing this (Weed (lol) as a domestic climbing plant in the garden?

    Many thanks for your great replies so far and helping me identify this new fascinating plant.


    PS loving this forum
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,394
    I have one up a tall tree stump with Clematis 'Bill MacKenzie'. The root is huge eventually but it's not an invasive root, just the one per plant, like a big parsnip.
  • arrr, great. do you have problems with it self seeding everywhere?

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,394
    not a problem really, have to remove a few but that's gardening
  • Hampshire HogHampshire Hog HampshirePosts: 330
    I grew up in the country and knew this as mandrake or ladies' seal.

    It is very poisonous as older kids we use to go and help remove it from the hedgerows in the fields that had animals in them.

    It contains a glycoside, variously called bryonin(e) or bryonidin, which is a dangerously strong purgative and an alkaloid called bryonicine

    "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
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