Fumaria officinalis - L.
Common Name Fumitory, Drug fumitory
Family Fumariaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Avoid in those with fits and epilepsy. Contraindicated with glaucoma patients. Avoid during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Allopathic medication for high blood pressure - effects increased [301].
Habitats Arable land and as a weed in gardens, usually on lighter soils[9, 17]. It is also found growing on old walls[244].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, to the Mediterranean and east to Iran.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Fumaria officinalis Fumitory, Drug fumitory

Fumaria officinalis Fumitory, Drug fumitory
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Fumaria officinalis is a ANNUAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to September, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Fumaria cirrhata. Fumaria diffusa. Fumaria disjuncta. Fumaria pulchella.

 Cultivated Beds; East Wall. In. South Wall. In. West Wall. In.
Edible Uses
Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Curdling agent.

The fresh or dried herb can be added to sour plant milks. A few sprays are added to each litre of liquid and left until the liquid has soured thickly. The sprays are then removed. It gives a tangy taste to the milk, acts as a preservative and prevents the rancid taste that can accompany soured milk[183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic;  Antispasmodic;  Aperient;  Cholagogue;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Laxative;  Tonic.

Fumitory has been highly valued since at least Roman times for its tonic and blood cleansing effect upon the body[244]. It is particularly valuable in the treatment of all visceral obstructions, particularly those of the liver, in scorbutic affections and in troublesome eruptive diseases of the skin, especially eczema (for which it can be taken internally and externally)[4, 9, 238]. The herb is antispasmodic, aperient, cholagogue, slightly diaphoretic, mildly diuretic, laxative and weakly tonic[4, 9, 21, 165, 240]. The plant is harvested as flowering begins in the summer and can be used fresh or can be dried for later use[9, 238]. Some caution should be exercised in the use of this herb since excess doses cause hypnotic and sedative effects, especially if it is taken for more than about 8 days[238, 244].


Other Uses
Baby care;  Dye.

A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers[4, 21]. A decoction makes a curative lotion for 'milk-crust' on the scalps of babies[4].
Cultivation details
Prefers a light well-drained soil in a sunny position[9, 17, 238]. This plant can be a common weed in some gardens, self-sowing freely, though it is fairly easy to control by hand weeding[K]. The flowers are seldom visited by insects, but they are self-fertile and usually set every seed[4].
Seed - sow spring in situ. There is normally very little need to sow this seed, the plant normally self-sows freely and should manage quite nicely by itself.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


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Botanical References
Links / References
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Readers comment
Keith Spurgin   Tue Apr 26 23:00:37 2005
Hi, thnaks for including Fumaria officinalis on your website. This is one of several species that are thought to be critical but which are usually distinct. From memory, we have in the British Isles: F. officinalis, F. purpurea, F. capreolata, F. occidentalis, F. muralis subsp. boraei, F. bastardii and F. reuterii in the large-flowered section. Then we have F. vaillantii, F. parviflora and F. densiflora in the small-flowered section. The reason I'm running through the list is that books and websites often lump them all together as an aggregate species. In fact they are different taxa and often behave differently. Stace has them all listed and they are worth getting to know. They would also make an interesting research project, as it would seem that we have been accidentally cultivating them. Best Wishes to you and to users of youe site. Keith.
Jorge Ferreira   Tue May 8 2007
We have generated our own seeds of Fumaria officinalis for a short while by growing them from seeds and keeping them at 20 C with 15 hour day length. However, this is no longer working for germination. Is there a full-proof cultivation method for Fumaria that you know? Thanks for any help. We want to investigate the anthelmintic effects of the plants in goats, but there are not enough plants to even try it. Thanks for your attention to this request, Sincerely, Jorge Ferreira
Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Fri May 11 2007
I have no personal experience in germinating these seeds simply because the plant grows wild and fairly prolifically on our land. I do know that the seed has a fairly long period of viability - tests have shown that seed stored for 11 years at room temperature still have a 5% germination rate. Thus you do not need to ensure your seed is fresh for it to germinate. Here in Cornwall, England the seeds often germinate in the autumn and flower in the spring (we have lots of them flowering now), but they do also germinate in the spring and flower in the summer. I have also had seeds germinate in the summer where the ground has been disturbed by hoeing. Thus they do not seem to need any special treatment such as scarification or stratification, nor do they seem to need a specific day-length in order to germinate. My first thought, therefore, is that you may be giving them too much attention and possibly too much warmth. The plant is widely naturalised in N. America, from the north to the far south. This shows it is quite happy germinating outdoors and this is the path I would take. I would sow them outside now, and I would also sow them outside in the autumn and earlier in the spring next year. I feel that you would end up with much better quality plants and less hassle of growing them.
Susan Fidler, herbalist   Fri Jun 12 2009
I need to get some seed - about an ouce would be plenty. Do you know where I can get some?
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Subject : Fumaria officinalis  

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