Bryonia alba - L.
White Bryony
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Bryonia alba L. (TSN 22348)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.131392
Element Code: PDCUC04010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Cucumber Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Violales Cucurbitaceae Bryonia
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Bryonia alba
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Idaho (SNA), Montana (SNA), Utah (SNA), Washington (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States IDexotic, MTexotic, UTexotic, WAexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: High/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Unknown
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Bryonia alba is believed to have been introduced into the United States via multiple introductions. Presently, it only occurs in western states (Montana, Washington, Utah and Idaho). It has invaded natural areas and conservation sites (at least one park in Washington), including riparian habitats, wooded ravines in grasslands, sagebrush and Ponderosa pine areas, and dry grasslands. Accounts have stated that this perennial vine invades all strata, from the herbaceous layer to the canopy. While it is only known from western states currently, some wonder why it has not spread into the eastern United States, especially since the first known introduction of the plant was to the eastern US in ballast water, and that it's been used as a garden and ornamental plant. Also, the climate of its native range, Europe and Asia, is similar to the eastern United States. Finally, management accounts report that this species is difficult to remove. It is an apomictic species, its seeds are consumed and dispersed by birds, and it produces enormous roots that easily resprout if not completely dug up.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: High/Low
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High/Low
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Unknown
I-Rank Review Date: 27Feb2004
Evaluator: Oliver, L.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Bryonia alba is native to Asia, and Europe (GRIN).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: Bryonia alba is established as a non-native in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Utah (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Bryonia alba has invaded conservation areas, specifically, in Washington state. This species was documented in Washington in 1994 in the Botanical Electronic News vol. 82, and was reported in Lewis and Clark State Park, Walla Walla Washington (1994). It is also reported to invade riparian habitats, wooded ravines in grasslands, sage brush, Ponderosa Pine zones and dry grasslands (Rice et al. 1997).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: High/Low

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:High/Low significance
Comments: Bryonia alba appears to invade all strata in an area, beginning as a seedling and eventually growing up and over the herbaceous plants, shrubs and up trees too (Botanical Electronic News 1994, Shaw 2002). While no direct evidence was found that explicitly states this species alters abiotic ecosystem processes, it certainly must as it can form clumps, covering significant areas. It probably removes water and nutrients from the soil that would otherwise be there (Shaw 2002).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:High significance
Comments: This vine species invades all strata, including the herbaceous, shrub and tree layer (Botanical Electronic News 1994, Shaw 2002).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Unknown
Comments: No information was found that specifically states that community composition is affected by this species, however, it probably is because of this species ability to invade all layers of vegetation.

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Unknown

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Unknown

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High/Low

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Bryonia alba is known from Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Utah (Kartesz 1999).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:High/Low significance
Comments: It is not clear to what extent within B. alba's range in the United States it is negatively affecting biodiversity. It is, however, considered to have a high potential to spread in Washington (WNPS) and is considered a noxious weed in Utah (Shaw 2002).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Low significance
Comments: This species is known from fewer than 13 ecoregions (TNC 01).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: It is reported to invade riparian habitats, wooded ravines in grasslands, sage brush, Ponderosa Pine zones and dry grasslands (Rice et al. 1997).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Novak and Mack 1995 describe this species as locally prominent in the widely spaced occurrences where it is present.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:High significance
Comments: Bryonia alba apparently was first introduced into the eastern United States via ballast, however, that introduction has not persisted. This species is persisting in the western United States where it is suspected that it entered that portion of the country by multiple introductions (Novak and Mack 1995). While it is believed that this species was introduced as a garden plant in some areas, there is also evidence that it is spreading on its own, namely because some populations are in areas where there is little human activity (Novak and Mack 1995). It is believed that this species' seeds are dispersed by birds. Finally, Novak and Mack 1995 point out that it is puzzling that this species isn't more widespread due to its known use as a garden plant, and that its native range (Europe and Asia) is more similar in climate to the eastern United States.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: The seeds of this species are consumed by birds (Shaw 2002, Novak and Mack 1995) and it is suspected that several populations may have started due to bird dispersal (Novak and Mack 1995).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Bryonia alba's local range has increased in abundance over the past 40 years (Novak and Mack 1995).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Medium significance/Insignificant
Comments: This species does appear to be able to invade natural areas as Rice et al. 1997 point out; it has been documented to invade riparian habitats, wooded ravines in grassland, sagebrush and Ponderosa pine areas and dry grasslands. It is unclear to what extent this species is able to invade intact habitat.

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Unknown

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Moderate significance
Comments: Bryonia abla is apomictic meaning that seeds can be produced with no sexual event (Novak and Mack 1995). In addition, this species produces massive roots, and when even a fragment is left in the ground, it will resprout (Shaw 2002).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Unknown

17. General Management Difficulty:High/Moderate significance
Comments: From personal accounts by Shaw (2002) this species is very difficult to eradicate. Mentioned in her article, this species' roots have to be completely dug out of the ground, and even small fragments left, can resprout. Herbicide was tried, however, it has no effect. It was noted that herbicide does seem to work on small seedlings (Shaw 2002).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Unknown

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Unknown

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Unknown

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Ceska, A. 1994. Bryonia alba confirmed in Washington. [Re BEN #79]. Botanical Electronic News 82. Accessed online. Accessed Februbary, 2004.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Novak., S. J. and R. N. Mack. 1995. Allozyme diversity in the apomictic vine Bryonia alba (Cucurbitaceae): potential consequences of multiple introductions. American Journal of Botany 82(9): 1153-1162.

  • Rice, P.M., C. Toney, and B. Sacco. 1997. Potential Exotic Plant Species Invading the Blackfoot Drainage. ONLINE. Accessed 2004, January.

  • Shaw, J. 2002. Cutting Back II. The Terrible Two. Joan Shaw's place - home and garden essays, book reviews, Northern Utah history, news links. Online. Accessed on 2/27/2004.

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2001. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN). [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.URL: (Accessed 2004)

  • Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS). 1997. Preliminary List of Exotic Pest Plants of Greatest Ecological Concern in Oregon and Washington. ONLINE. Accessed 2004, January.

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