Common fumitory

A long-flowering annual plant, pollinated by hymenopterans, blooms from April to October. The common fumitory is used in medicine and cosmetology as a remedy for diseases of the gallbladder and skin diseases. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.

SKU: N081

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About the species

Polish name: common fumitory, medical fumitory

Latin Name: Fumaria officinalis L.

Family: poppies Papaveraceae

Status in Poland: naturalized in Poland since antiquity, common

annual plant
Flower color:
about 20 cm


The common fumitory is a slender, medium-tall annual plant.

It is characterized by a narrow, irregularly bent root, growing 0.2-0.6 m into the ground. It develops the half-, or fully raised stem with alternate foliage, and angular cross section, hollow inside. The shoots are either brownish green, or bright and vivid green. F. officinalis has strongly divided, bipinnate leaves bare on both sides. Their top leaflets tend to be elliptical or lanceolate, always with a specific bluish shade.

The flowers will be bisexual, pectinate (zygomorphic), composed of a calyx, and a corolla, additionally covered with bracts, on short petioles, forming together an inflorescence in the form of a small raceme.The calyx of the common fumitory consists of two sepals. The corolla of four petals, fused into a tube, with the upper petal becoming a spur. There are six stamens per flower, with filaments fused together at the top in threes. Both the flower, and the bract have multiple, pastel shades of pink, amaranth or purple turning into light brown or delicate purple.

The fruit of the drug fumitory is round or kidney-shaped, dry and non-cracking, depending on the key, classified as achene,or peanut, with two shallow holes at the top and bottom, green then brown-yellow, 2.0-2.5 mm long. Usually, two subspecies are distinguished, sometimes rised to the rank of species: the drug fumitory with slightly branching stems and clearly kidney-shaped fruits, and Wirtgen fumitory with thinner, more delicate, but more branchy shoots and almost spherical fruits.

Additional information


The common fumitory loves sunny, warm and dry locations, with very fertile, humus-rich soil, rich in nitrite, and phosphorus salts. It tolerates partial shade very well. It grows on almost all types of soil, as long as it is alkaline, or at most slightly acidic. It is most likely to grow in clay soils, but also sandy and light ones will be great.

Fumaria officinalis grows great in containers, and urban flower meadows, where many deliberately sown ornamental species lose the competition with local weeds from the soil seed bank, due to the excessive fertility of the substrate. Caution should be taken when sowing mixtures containing its seeds in villages, because from the farmers’ point of view, fumitory is one of the more noxious weeds of arable fields, hay meadows and pastures. It strongly reduces the yield of grains and vegetables, and can be poisonous to cattle and horses.

Interesting facts

As the species name officinalis indicates, it’s an ancient medical and cosmetic herb. Fumitory juice, and yarrow juice mixed with wheat flour smoothes oily, and/or acne skin. Decoctions, and teas made from the dried herb has a very diuretic, choleretic and diastolic effect. It’s not allowed to heal by those on your own, without a doctor supervision, because they weaken a liver, a heart, and smooth muscles.

Morphology, and using of the common fumitory was in the eyes of former doctors, and the witches another confirmation of the ancient command that like cures like. Ancient Romans, and  medieval Arabs believed that since the herb of the common fumitory looks like smoke hovering over the fields, then juices, decoctions or incense sticks made from its herbs should bring tears to eyes like smoke from fire, and simultaneously cleanse the body from diseases like smoke from incense purifies the temples from  demons.

From the Latin generic name Fumaria the name of fumaric acid, and its salt, and esters: fumarates. Fumarate is an important intermediate product of the citric acid cycle (Krebs cycle), the last stage of aerobic respiration of  most living organisms. The fumarate plays a significant role in  food industry as a preservative and antioxidant E297. On an industrial scale, it is produced not from the fumitory herb, but from butane (one of the components of natural gas).

Common fumitory in seed mixtures:

Use Value

No data about its pollen and nectar yields are available. Perhaps, similarly to poppies and eschscholzias, it produces only a pollen relatively attractive for hymenopterans, but not a nectar? Theoretically, it has some potential as a melliferous species. This issue requires further research.


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