seeds of Bryonia dioica, Red Bryony, English mandrake

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Bryonia dioica Samen
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Bryonia dioica is a vine species originally from Southern and Central Europe. The more common names of Bryonia dioica include Red bryony, Ladies’ seal or English Mandrake. This perennial, flowering plant is a member of the family Cucurbitaceae. With the exception of its place of origin, Bryonia dioica is currently distributed in Britain, North Africa and West Asia. Plants are fast climbers and can grow up to 3.5 metres in length and 3 metres in width. The plant is dioecious which means that the plant is of a single-sex even if male and flowers grow on the same plant. It, therefore, follows that one must grow multiple vines in order to ensure that fertilization takes place. Bees will most likely facilitate the cross-pollination in search of nectar. Male flowers are broader than female flowers and can grow to 18 mm across as compared to the 12 mm limit of the later. Bryonia dioica has toxic effects on human beings and should be used with caution. Ingesting the plant’s juice will only lead to nausea, vomiting and complications along the gastrointestinal tract. A large dose will most likely lead to either paralysis or death. Applying the juice to the skin will lead to inflammation, rashes and ulcers in some cases. Nevertheless, Bryonia dioica was regarded in the medieval period as a possible cure for leprosy. Despite the plant’s harmful effects, all is not lost. The seeds of the plant are edible, safe and widely used in many European nations as an ingredient in the preparation of dishes with plenty of starch. Bryonia dioica can grow in several soil types including medium loamy, light sandy and heavy clay soils. The plant also requires well-drained soils that are either alkaline or of neutral pH.
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