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Conopodium majus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, woodland.

White, 5 petals
White umbels, 7cm across, no lower bracts, 5 white stamens, 5 white curly petals.
An oblong, ridged fruit (mericarp), up to 4mm long.
Finely divided, alternate, feathery, needle-like leaves.
Other Names:
Arnut, Cipernut, Earth Chestnut, Earth Nut, Earth Pignut, Earthnut, Groundnut, Hawknut, Hognut, Jarnut, Kippernut, Saint Anthony's Nut.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Conopodium majus, commonly known as Pignut or Earthnut, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the Apiaceae family. It is native to Europe, including the British Isles, and parts of Asia and North Africa. The plant has glossy, dark green leaves and small, white or pink flowers that grow in umbels. The most distinctive feature of this plant is the presence of a small, edible nut-like tubers, which are found underground and can be harvested in late summer or fall. They have a nutty, sweet taste and are used as a food source, but it's not widely consumed.


Pignut, or Conopodium majus, is a small, herbaceous plant native to Europe and parts of Asia. It is a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae) and is closely related to other familiar plants such as carrots, parsley, and fennel. Pignut is also sometimes called earthnut, because its edible tubers grow underground and resemble nuts in shape and flavor.

The plant itself is quite unassuming, growing to a height of around 30 cm and producing small, white flowers in late spring and early summer. However, it is the tubers that are of interest to foragers and food enthusiasts. These tubers are usually around 2-3 cm in diameter and are covered in a papery, brown skin. Inside, the flesh is white and starchy, with a sweet, nutty flavor that is often compared to chestnuts.

Pignut has a long history of use as a food and medicinal plant. The tubers were a staple food for many indigenous people in Europe, and were also eaten by early settlers in North America. Today, pignut is still enjoyed by foragers and those interested in wild food. The tubers can be eaten raw or cooked, and are often roasted or boiled before being eaten. They can be used in a variety of dishes, such as stews, soups, and salads, and can also be dried and ground into flour.

In addition to its culinary uses, pignut has also been used for medicinal purposes. It has traditionally been used to treat digestive problems, such as indigestion and diarrhea, as well as respiratory ailments such as coughs and bronchitis. Pignut has also been used as a poultice for wounds and skin conditions.

Despite its many uses, pignut is not widely cultivated or sold commercially. This is partly due to the fact that the tubers are small and difficult to harvest, but also because the plant is not well-known outside of foraging circles. However, for those willing to seek it out, pignut can be a delicious and nutritious addition to the diet.

If you are interested in trying pignut, it is important to be absolutely certain of the plant's identity before consuming it. There are many plants in the carrot family that are poisonous, and some can be deadly. It is always best to go foraging with an experienced guide or to do extensive research beforehand to ensure that you are harvesting the correct plant. With a little care and caution, however, pignut can be a rewarding and delicious wild food to add to your culinary repertoire.

Pignut is a versatile plant that can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, meadows, and hedgerows. It is particularly common in the UK, where it is considered a traditional food. In fact, the tubers were once a popular snack for schoolchildren, who would roast them over a fire during outdoor activities.

In addition to its culinary and medicinal uses, pignut is also an important plant for wildlife. The flowers are a valuable source of nectar for bees and other insects, while the seeds are eaten by birds such as goldfinches and siskins. The plant is also a host for the caterpillars of several species of moth.

Despite its many benefits, pignut is not without its challenges. Harvesting the tubers can be time-consuming, and the plant is not particularly abundant in many areas. Additionally, because it is not widely cultivated, there is little research on the plant's nutritional content or potential health benefits.

However, for those interested in wild food and foraging, pignut is definitely worth exploring. Its sweet, nutty flavor and versatility in the kitchen make it a valuable addition to any wild food pantry. With proper identification and a bit of caution, pignut can be a delicious and sustainable way to connect with the natural world and experience the bounty of the land.

In addition to its traditional uses, pignut has also been studied for its potential medicinal properties. Some research suggests that it may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and may be useful in the treatment of conditions such as arthritis and cancer. However, more research is needed to fully understand the plant's therapeutic potential.

Pignut is also a plant that is closely tied to the cultural heritage of many regions. In the UK, for example, it is associated with the folklore of the fairy realm, and is said to be a favorite food of the fairy folk. In other cultures, the plant has been used in traditional ceremonies and as a symbol of fertility and abundance.

Despite its many benefits, pignut is not a well-known plant outside of foraging circles. However, with the increasing interest in wild food and sustainable agriculture, there is a growing awareness of the value of traditional plants like pignut. By exploring the natural world and rediscovering the plants and foods that have sustained us for generations, we can deepen our connection to the land and to our own heritage.

One of the interesting aspects of pignut is its role in promoting biodiversity. As a wild plant, it is adapted to local conditions and can provide food and habitat for a wide range of species. By incorporating wild foods like pignut into our diets, we can help support healthy ecosystems and promote the conservation of wild plants and their associated wildlife.

Pignut is also a plant that encourages us to slow down and reconnect with the natural world. Foraging for pignuts can be a meditative experience, as we take the time to observe our surroundings and connect with the rhythms of the natural world. It is a reminder that food does not have to come from a supermarket shelf, but can be found all around us if we are willing to look.

One of the interesting things about pignut is its use in traditional medicine. In the past, it was believed to have various healing properties and was used to treat a range of ailments. For example, it was used as a remedy for rheumatism, indigestion, and urinary tract infections. It was also used to stimulate the appetite and to promote lactation in nursing mothers.

In modern times, pignut has been the subject of scientific study for its potential health benefits. Research has shown that the plant contains various compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds may be useful in the treatment of conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Pignut is also a plant with cultural significance. It has been used in various traditional ceremonies and festivals, and has been associated with folklore and mythology in many cultures. For example, in some parts of Europe, it was believed that eating pignuts would protect against witchcraft and evil spirits.

Overall, pignut is a fascinating plant with many uses and associations. Whether for culinary, medicinal, or cultural purposes, it is a valuable part of our natural heritage that deserves greater recognition and appreciation. By learning about and exploring the potential of plants like pignut, we can deepen our understanding of the natural world and our place within it.


Pignut filmed in the Chorley area of Lancashire on the 3rd and 7th of May 2023.


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