Common Fumitory - Fumaria officinalis


    Weak, low to short scrambling plant, leaf segments flat. Racemes longer than their stalks, flowers numerous, purplish-pink with a reddish-black apex. 7 to 9 mm long. Sepal with irregular teeth.

    Similar Species

    All other Fumaria

    Identification difficulty
    ID guidance

    Most Fumaria in VC55 are likely to be this species. This is very difficult genus that is hard to identify from a photo; determination depends on fine differences in flower, sepal and bract shape and size.  Flowers 5-6mm; sepals 0.5-1mm, narrower than corolla; lower petal spathulate; fruits truncate to retuse at apex and distinctly wider than long.

    Stace (4th edition)  says 'it is essential to base determinations on well-grown non-shaded material in early or mid flowering season.  Late or shade-grown plants may be very atypical, with short paler petals, longer narrower sepals, relatively long bracts and less or more recurved fruiting pedicels. . .' Photos must be taken with the above in mind. 

    Recording advice

    Photos showing details of flower and seed shape


    A plant of disturbed and bare soil and cultivated land.

    When to see it

    May to October.

    Life History


    UK Status

    Found throughout Britain, often common.

    VC55 Status

    Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 205 of the 617 tetrads.

    Listed as subsp. officinalis in the current Checklist (Jeeves, 2011), and as Alien, Occasional


    be our species champion

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

    Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
    Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

    UK Map