The name ‘bryony’ is entirely appropriate for this plant as it comes from the Greek word bruein which, apparently, means ‘to be full to bursting’. However, though the berries of Black bryony (Tamus communis) are cherry-red and luscious-looking, please don’t be tempted to eat them as they are deadly poisonous.
There are, in fact, two plants with the bryony name in Britain, White bryony and Black, but they are not part of the same plant family. Rather surprisingly, Black bryony is the only member of the yam family to grow here but, again, don’t be tempted to eat its roots. In spring and summer, Black bryony’s long tangling vines can be found rambling over, under and through the shrubs and bushes of hedgerows and scrub-lands, and in autumn and winter, though the heart-shaped leaves brown and drop, the masses of red berries brighten up the countryside for many months.