Taf Fechan – a Tropical Paradise?

I always knew Taf Fechan was a tropical paradise in disguise. Not only do we have Coral reefs and blue lagoons we now have Yams!

Black bryony by Graham Watkeys

Black bryony by Graham Watkeys

Black Bryony is our only native species from the tropical Yam family and is a common sight in autumnal hedgerows where its swags of shiny red berries stand out wonderfully.

With all this boundless and bountiful tropicality I am seriously thinking about finding a good coconut supplier, getting a hammock, a few thousand of those little paper umbrella thingies (with little badgers on) and asking to change our volunteer uniform to some officially WTSWW logoed (but truly terrible) Hawaiian shirts. (It’s not happening Graham – the editor!)

Graham Watkeys – Taf Fechan Warden

Black bryony  is a climbing herbaceous plant growing to 2–4 m tall, with twining stems. The leaves are spirally arranged, heart-shaped, up to 10 cm long and 8 cm broad, with a petiole up to 5 cm long.

It is dioecious, with separate male and female plants.

Black bryony berries by Graham Watkeys

Black bryony berries by Graham Watkeys

The flowers are individually inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, 3–6 mm diameter, with six petals; the male flowers produced in slender 5–10 cm racemes, the female flowers in shorter clusters. The fruit is a bright red berry, 1 cm diameter.

Its fairly large tuber is, like the rest of the plant, poisonous.