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Common Fumitory

Scientific Name: Fumaria officinalis
Other names: Beggary, Earth-smoke, Drug Fumitory, Wax dolls
Family: Fumariaceae

An annual and member of the poppy family, Papaveraceae, with feathery blue-green foliage on weak branched stems. The stalks of the leaves can wrap themselves around things to support the plant like a Clematis. The plant is said to resemble smoke due to the whitish bloom on the leaves - hence the scientific name Fumaria. Found in arable fields and waste ground, it perfers a sunny position with light, well-drained soil. Not really invasive and is a useful medicinal herb. In can be taken internally to releive inflammation, as a diuretic and a laxative, however it is poisonous so should not be taken by the amateur herbalist. Externally it has been used to treat acne and eczema with antiseptic properties - making an eyewash to treat conjunctivitis.
Flowers from April to October, racemes of 10 to 50 pink flowers with crimson tips arise in the leaf axils.
Height up to 90 cm with support.
Hoe or hand pull before flowering, easily uprooted.
Weedkillers to use:-
Paraquat, Diquat by contact action.
A residual herbicide prevents germination.


Nicholas Culpepper
(17th century astrologer-physician)
"The juice or syrup made of it, opens obstructions of the liver and spleen. It clarifies the blood from saltish, choleric and other humours which cause leprosy, scabs, tetters and itches and other outbreaks of the skin.
It eradicates the yellow jaundice through the urine which it produces in abundance. The powdered herb cures melancholy if given for some time. The distilled water taken with treacle is good against the plague and pestilence. With Honey of Roses, it is gargled to help sores of the mouth and throat.
Dropped into the eyes, the juice takes away redness and other defects in them, although it causes pain and tears in the process."

Humour - any bodily fluid.
Tetters - a form of herpes, ringworm or eczema.

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