Weed of the month – December 2016


(Fumaria capreolata)white-fumaria-composite_14-cm(Photos: E. Cousins, plant; close-up of flower head)

This scrambling weed is found in damp soils along creek banks, etc. Its soft, hairless foliage is heavily lobed (a bit like flat parsley leaves in shape, and maidenhair fern in softness). The droopy flowers are tubular, clustered on a large bract. Each flower is white, tipped with a distinctive purple-red blotch. About 3 weeks after the first flowers appear, seeds are already maturing. These can stay viable for years: 3-5 years if they remain in the top 5 cm of soil, but up to 20 years if they have been carried 15cm down e.g. by ants or soil disturbance.