Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb fumitory are Earth-smoke, Hedge Fumitory, Wax Dolls, Beggary, Fumus, Vapor, Nidor, Fumus Terrae, Scheiteregi, Taubenkropp and Kaphnos.
In the ninth century medical writing of the great Arab doctor and philosopher all kind fumitory is used medicinally as it still is today in the Middle East. In 1964 Castevetto suggested boiling fumitory with hops and other greens to make a kind of healthful concoction. Fumitory is an annual herb growing up to 30 inches tall with slender stems and many limp branches in cultivated soil in Europe and America. Its virtues are chiefly tonic, and those who suffer from diseases of the stomach know too well that a tonic, if properly defined, is, simple as it may be, one of the most important remedies for human ailments nature has provided.
Though Culpepper recommended the whole plant, but the modern decision is to use the leaves, gathered at the proper times, alone. They have no odor, but taste bitter under all circumstances. They are to be used when fresh, and possess the same qualities as Culpepper affixes to the fresh root. In the Greco- Roman world fumitory's name was kapnos, the Greek for smoke. According to both authorities, the plant got the name smoke from its sharp-tasting juice, which causes the eyes to tear as they would from smoke.
Fumitory is an annual, glaucous plant, with a sub-erect, much branched, spreading, leafy and angular stem, growing from ten to fifteen inches high.
The leaves are mostly alternate. The gray-green leaves are divided into triangular toothed leaflets. At the top of the branches stand many small flowers, as it were in a long spike one above another, made like little birds, of a reddish purple colour, with whitish bellies, after which come small round husks, containing small black seeds. The root is small, yellow, and not very long, and full of juice when it is young. The fruit, or nut, is ovoid or globose, one-seeded or valveless. The seeds are crestless. It is self-fertile, and sets every seed.
It is native to Europe and North Africa; fumitory also grows in Asia, North America, and Australia.
The fumitory is always said to thrive best in cornfields and gardens. The plant flowers almost throughout the summer in fields, gardens, and on banks, and in ditches, spreading with great rapidity.
Fumitory prefers light and well-drained soil in a sunny position. This plant can be a common weed in some gardens, self-sowing freely, though it is fairly easy to control by and weeding. The flowers are seldom visited by insects, but they are self-fertile and usually set every seed. Seeds are sown in 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.
The flowering aerial
parts and the herb of
fumitory are most commonly used
for its medicinal
and commercial purposes.
At the ends of the branches bloom elongated clusters of small, tubular, pink-purple, crimson-tipped flowers which is in bloom between May to September.
Pests and Diseases
Tulip fire is the major diseases affecting this crop. Apart from this occasionally it is also affected by aphids and powdery mildew.
• A decoction makes a curative lotion for milk-crust on the scalp of an infant. The Japanese make a tonic from it.
• French and German physicians still prefer it to most other medicines as a purifier of the blood; while sometimes the dried leaves are smoked in the manner of tobacco, for disorders of the head.
• An ointment made from fumitory improved eyesight and prevented eyelashes that had been pulled out from growing again.
• Fumitory stimulates liver function, rid the body of impurities, and clear up certain skin infections.
• Recent research suggests that fumitory contains substances that act on the heart and on blood pressure.
• Fumitory is used in the treatment of skin problems such as eczema and acne.
• Fumitory may also be used as eyewash to ease conjunctivitis.
• It is used, in combination, with excellent effect in cutaneous diseases, liver complaints, such as jaundice, costiveness, scurvy, and in debility of the stomach.
• When gargled it helps to treat sores of the mouth and throat.
• The flowers are used to make a yellow dye for wool.
• The flowers and tops have been applied, macerated in wine, to dyspepsia, with partial good effect.