Species of the Month - December 2018

Each month we feature a picture of a species to be found on The Commons. Wherever possible, all species featured have been photographed here. This month we are featuring Black Bryony (Tamus communis). Black Bryony is the only British member of the Yam family. It has sprays of tiny creamy white flowers in summer as it threads its way through other shrubs and trees. It can climb to five metres.In December, its trailing clusters of bright red berries provide one of the few splashes of colour to be found in the countryside.Its leaves, now falling off, are also distinctive, being the shape of the ace of spades.

Black Bryony is poisonous and this may be why the birds give it a wide berth, although they have of course adapted to eating the berries of the equally poisonous Yew. Like other potentially harmful plants it did not stop its use in folk medicine. It has provided a popular remedy for bruising and black eyes being reduced to a pulp and used as a poultice. A tincture from the root was used as a remedy for chilblains.

Black Bryony can be found on each of our commons. Those in the photos were on School Common and The Common.

More information can be found on the Wildlife Trusts' website.

Click here to see the other Species of the month in 2018.

Click here to see the Species of the Month for last year, or here for 2016's Plants of the Month.