The whole plant is poisonous due to its saponin content
. Although toxic, saponins are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].
The toxic effect of this plant is not caused by saponins, but by calcium oxalate crystals which are found mainly in the fruit
Young shoots - cooked
. A decidedly bitter flavour
. An asparagus substitute, it is best if the water is changed once whilst cooking
. See notes at top of the page regarding possible toxicity.
There are no material uses listed for Tamus communis.
The root is antiecchymotic, diuretic, emetic, haemolytic and rubefacient
. Use with caution, the plant is rich in saponins, has a very powerful cathartic affect and ranks as a dangerous irritant poison
. It is not normally used internally, but the macerated root is applied externally as a poultice to bruises, rheumatic joints etc
. This should not be done without expert advice since it can cause painful blisters
. The root is used fresh
or can be harvested in the autumn and dried for later use
Seed - sow in a cold frame in early spring or as soon as the seed is ripe in the autumn. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle, and plant out in the summer or in late spring of the following year.
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Tamus communis. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
Requires a moist well-drained fertile soil
A climbing plant, the weak stems support themselves by twining around other plants and are capable of growing quite high up into shrubs and trees.
Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
There are no interactions listed for Tamus communis. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.
Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Tamus communis.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
Material uses & Functions
Native Climate Zones
Adapted Climate Zones
Native Geographical Range
Root Zone Tendancy
? 1.01.11.21.220.127.116.11.7 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
? 2.02.12.2 Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
? 3.03.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
? 4.04.14.24.18.104.22.168 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
? 5.05.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
? 6.06.1 Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
? 7.07.17.27.3 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
? 8.08.1 Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)
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