Common Fumitory

Fumaria officinalis L.

Family: Papaveraceae (was Fumariaceae)

Names:

Fumaria is from the Latin fumus terrae meaning smoke of the earth and may refer to the smoky odour of some species in this genus or the smoky colour of some species when in flower.
Officinalis is medieval Latin meaning belonging to an officina or monastry store room where medicines were kept and is now applied to plants (or other organisms) that had an established herbal, medical, culinary or other use.
Common Fumitory.

Summary:

A hairless, waxy bloomed annual herb or vine with finely divided leaves and red-purple, somewhat tubular flowers.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two.

Leaves:

Stipules -
Petiole - Yes.
Blade - Green to blue-green with a waxy bloom. 2-3 times finely divided almost to the mid-rib into narrowly oblong or triangular lobes. Hairless.

Stems:

Angular with a waxy bloom, branched, weak, scrambling, spreading or bending upwards, up to 800 mm long. Surface smooth and hairless.

Flower head:

Narrow, dense raceme, up to 50 mm long, with about 20 flowers.

Flowers:

Somewhat tubular and narrow, red-purple with darker tips. On stalks 2-4 mm long.
Bracts - under flowers 1.5-3 mm long.
Ovary - Thread like style with 2 stigmas.
Sepals - 2, scale-like, flat, egg shaped, 2-3.5 mm long x 1-1.5 mm wide. Toothed edges. Tapering to a point.
Petals - 2 pairs, upper petal spurred or pouched. Reddish purple and darker at the tips. 6-9 mm long. Wings of upper petal and tip of inner ones blackish red. Lower petal has spreading edges. Petals close together at their tips.
Stamens - 6. Opposite outer petals. Joined by their filaments into 2 bundles.
Anthers - 2 sets of 3. The middle one has 2 cells the outer ones have 1 cell.

Fruit:

Nut-like capsule on an erect or spreading stalk. Globular, flattened 2.5 mm diameter. Surface slightly wrinkled when dry. Top is flat or has a large shallow pit.

Seeds:

Roots:

Key Characters:

Fruiting pedicel erect or spreading and straight. Corolla reddish purple, 7-9 mm long. Globular wrinkled nut.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Annual. Flowers from July to November.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed.

Flowering times:

July, August and November in Perth.
July to February in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

None.

Hybrids:

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Origin and History:

Europe. Mediterranean.

Distribution:

NSW, QLD, SA, VIC, WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Temperate.

Soil:

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Once a widely used herb.

Detrimental:

Weed of disturbed areas.

Toxicity:

Possibly toxic. Suspected of poisoning stock in NSW and causing glaucoma in people consuming grain or oils contaminated with Common Fumitory.

Legislation:

None.

Management and Control:

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Bastard's Fumitory (Fumaria bastardii)
Denseflower Fumitory (Fumaria densiflora)
Indian Fumitory (Fumaria indica)
Smallflower Fumitory (Fumaria parviflora)
Wall Fumitory (Fumaria muralis)
Whiteflower Fumitory (Fumaria capreolata).

Plants of similar appearance:

Carrot weed has similar leaves but has yellow flowers.
Erodium and Storksbill have similar leaves but with hairs, the flowers are blue and they have corkscrew fruit.
Parsley Piert
Swinecress

References:

Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P173.

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). P292.

Gardner, G.A. and Bennetts, H.W. (1956). The toxic plants of Western Australia. (West Australian Newspapers Ltd, Perth). P30.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #563.6.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P69.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.