The young buds on the wild hops plant can be consumed in the spring as if they were asparagus. However, be aware of its root and its red fruit, which are highly poisonous. The fruit still hangs until the Fall, after the rest of the plant has dried. Not even the birds consume them. It is worth distinguishing wild hops from sasparilla since their fruit is edible and has medicinal properties. Sasparilla has thorns on its stem and heart-shaped leaves.
Wild Hops Plant Scientific Facts
- Scientific synonym: Bryonia dioica Jacq.
- Other names: Red bryony, devil’s turnip, wild vine, wild white vine.
- French: Bryone.
- Spanish: Brionia.
- Environment: Common in forests and bushes in southern and Central Europe, especially near the banks of rivers. It is also found in America.
- Description: Climbing plant of the Cucurbitaceae family, growing up to 3 m high. Its leaves have five lobules, and spiral tendrils grow opposite to them, which stick to other plants and trees. It has white or bluish flowers. The fruit is a red berry.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The root.
Healing Properties and Warning
The wild hops plant root is large, turnip-shaped, and can grow to the size of a human head. It is very irritating to the skin. This root contains a resin and an alkaloid (bryonine), which give it drastic purgative properties. In ancient times, it was used for brain congestion and edema; however, it is no longer used since it produces intense diarrhea. At present, there are other milder remedies.
WARNING! The red berries of this plant are dangerously poisonous; they can even cause death. In the case of poisoning (which is unlikely to occur since these berries are irritant and practically inedible), inducing vomiting is required, then administer charcoal and move the poisoned person to a hospital.
White bryony, also called wood vine, is another species of the same botanical family, with similar properties to the wild hops plant. It is called white bryony since its flowers are white and its berries are black.
How to use Wild Hops
- Root. It has been traditionally used as a drastic purgative, but it is no longer used since it produces too energetic effects.
- George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 490. Print.