Sunday, September 27, 2015

Common Fumitory

This is the commonest fumitory, especially round the south of England. It is Common Fumitory, Fumaria officinalis. There are quite a few fumitories (Dense-flowered, Fine-leaved, Few-flowered, White Ramping, Purple Ramping, Tall Ramping, Common Ramping) and the key to telling them apart is to look at the sepals (the translucent, white, pointy 'shield' at the junction of the flower stalk and the flower in the top left picture) and the fruit plus bract. 
The fruit in Common Fumitory is a truncated sphere with fruit stalk longer than bract (bottom left (x20)). 
The family name comes from the Greek name for the plant which meant 'smoke'. The reason (so obvious when pointed out) is that the watery latex of the plant, when put in the eyes, causes them to weep, just like smoke. Good old Dioscorides; never one for arcane connections.

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