We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


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    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Fumaria officinalis Fumitory, Drug fumitory

Fumaria officinalis Fumitory, Drug fumitory


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

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

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


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

Plant Habitats

 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].

References   More on Edible Uses

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  Eczema  Laxative  

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].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

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].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

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].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

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

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

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?

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Fumaria officinalis  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.