Fumitory

FumitoryI can’t remember where I got my first Fumitory plant from. I nurtured it in a pot for months and was so upset when I transplanted it and it died. The following Spring I was thrilled to see a few tiny plants popping up, and since then I have never had a shortage.  When I moved I didn’t even bother to take a plant, as I knew seeds would be traveling in at least one pot.  Yes, it becomes a weed and grows everywhere.  I don’t mind it growing though.  It is very pretty, grows when there is very little else flowering, and has very shallow roots which can easily be pulled out.

It is credited with a whole range of healing properties, but to be honest, I have only ever used it for eyes.  A cloth soaked in an infusion and held over the eyes is very soothing.

It is a low-growing plant with grayish-green leaves and pink or purple flowers. The stems are very weak but happily grow up supporting plants. The plant has a bitter taste and a slightly smoky smell, hence its common name “earth smoke”, although this name has also been credited to the fact it gives off an irritating smoke when it is burned.

Cultivation

It will grow easily from a cutting, a piece that has been pulled up, or seed.  Once it is established it becomes a weed.

Culinary

The flowers can be added to milk curds to improve the taste and act as a preservative

Medicinal

Fumitory has been used medicinally for centuries.  The aerial parts are used in an infusion.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Improves liver and gallbladder function
  • Externally for skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.  Interestingly a synthetic fumaric acid is used in modern psoriasis and eczema remedies
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Coughs and colds
  • Asthma
  • Conjunctivitis and soothing eyes.
  • Mild diuretic

Fumitory – Fumaria officinalis

 

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  • Cultivation
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