Shoreham beach, where I found this Bittersweet, is one of the richest vegetated shingles in the world. It hosts an extraordinary mixture of plants and animals, all of which contend with salinity, fierce wind and a lack of fresh water – not to mention trampling and destruction by humans. The landscape can look slightly surreal, the haphazard clumps of vegetation make formations that make strange silhouettes against the flat planes of shingle, sea and sky.
Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) is a member of the Solanum family that includes potatoes and tomatoes. Also known as Woody Nightshade, it has poisonous red berries that look just like miniature tomatoes. Bittersweet scrambles over the shingle, sometimes in dense mats, providing shelter for invertebrates.
It is a plant much used in the past by herbalists and alchemists. External preparations of the leaves feature in folk remedies for warts and tumours. Even modern medicine has found uses for it in treating whooping cough, rheumatism, gout, bronchitis and skin conditions.
I used coloured pencil – as a medium, it lends itself particularly well to the rendering of pebbles.