Friday, 7 August 2015

White Bryony and Black

Photo: Jane Gilliard

The leaves of White Bryony have finger-like lobes.  It climbs over hedges and other plants, hanging on with curly tendrils in the same way that peas and sweet peas do.

Photo: Jane Gilliard

The flowers are greeny-white and give rise later to bright red berries.  

There is another, quite unrelated plant called Black Bryony, which has similar berries but the leaves are heart-shaped and the flowers are tiny 5mm bells.  It is also a scrambling climber but manages without tendrils, twining clockwise round other plant stems to get up to the light.  

You can see its wiry stems climbing from one plant to another in the photo below.

The heart-shaped leaves have a network of veins and are shiny, particularly on the underside.

Sometimes the leaves turn a rich bronzy purple before withering.

 By the time these green berries have ripened to scarlet, the leaves will probably have withered away.

Don't confuse them with yet another climber scrambling amongst the trees and shrubs.  This is Traveller's Joy or Wild Clematis.  In autumn you can see why it earns its third name of Old Man's Beard as the fluffy seed heads cover the bushes with white down.  But at the moment it is growing long trailing stems and budding up with delicate creamy white flowers.


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