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Bryonia Dioica

Updated on April 12, 2011

The white screw (Bryonia dioica Jacq., 1774) is a herbaceous perennial plant, belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, native to Central and South West Asia and North Africa.It is a herbal plant.

Distribution and habitat

Vegetation in areas ruderal, woodland shade, hedges, from the sea to the mountain sub-region.


Green plant with large roots, fleshy, bitter, and branched stem slender, climbing 2-4 m, angular, branching, wiry, with short and sparse glandular hairs, fitted with a thread-like tendrils wrapped spiral at the top. Leaves petiolate, palmate, with 5 lobes large, oval, with the median lobe larger than the others, sometimes narrow and elongated, with wavy image denticulate, rough, calloused, with thinning hair and rigid. Flowers dioecious gathered in small axillary, pedicels with equal or shorter than the petiole, sessile. Male flowers with calyx campanulate, corolla yellowish, with lacini oval and obtuse, longer than the calyx, five stamens, of which a solitary and the other welded in pairs with very short filaments, anthers unilocular, broadly oval. Female flowers with calyx tube globose and strangled above the ovary, corolla yellowish, such as in the male, ovoid ovary divided into three parietal placentas from false lodges, multiovulato with style shut up simple and three stigmas papillose. Ripe red berry fruit on the size of a pea, green in the early stages, seeds ovoid, compressed, narrow margins and mottled with black.

Similar species

It can be confused with Tamus communis, but it is all hairless has a heart-shaped leaves and bright interissime, scrambles to roll clockwise, has smaller flowers with six tepals perigonium, semi-spherical white with yellow albumen horny. The root can be confused with that of Phytolacca spp. but this has beams round and wiry, form large circular and radial lines.


The roots contain two glucosides and the brionina brionidina, an essential oil, resin and pectic substance (brioresina) oil, tires etc.. the seeds contain a fatty oil but because of their toxicity is not used in an alimentri


The whole plant is poisonous especially the berries. The dried roots were used fresh or, more rarely, at very low doses, as a drastic purgative, also was used against respiratory diseases such as whooping cough and lung inflammation (Huchard), can cause menstrual and haemorrhoidal flow due to the congestion caused on the pelvic organs. In general, the plant is also irritating to skin contact in cases of overdosage, it can cause vomiting, colic pain, bloody diarrhea, hematuria, and can lead to death from cardiorespiratory arrest. Today, given its drawbacks is no longer used.


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    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

      Love reading about plants and what purpose they serve.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      What a pretty plant, and yet it's poisonous, how sad. Thanks for sharing and informing.