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Few-flowered Fumitory

Fumaria vaillantii

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Papaveraceae (Poppy)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Fields, wasteland.

Pink, 4 petals
Short-stalked, tubular, purple-tipped flowers. Flowers exist in a spike. The flowers measure 5 to 6mm in size.
The fruit is a roughly globular nutlet with a crest on top.
A scrambling annual flower with divided leaves. The leaf lobes are flat.
Other Names:
Vaillant's Corydalis, Vaillant's Fumitory.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Fumaria vaillantii, also known as Vaillant's fumitory or Vaillant's corydalis, is a species of flowering plant in the Papaveraceae family. It is native to Europe, including Great Britain and parts of Asia. It is an annual or biennial herb that typically grows to 20-40 cm tall, and has delicate, divided leaves and small pink or white flowers that bloom in Spring and Summer. It is similar in appearance to other species of fumitory, but it can be distinguished by its larger, more showy flowers. The plant can grow in a range of soil types and is often found in waste ground and cultivated fields. Like other fumitory species, Fumaria vaillantii has a history of use in traditional medicine, particularly for treating skin conditions such as eczema, and for its diuretic and laxative effects. However, it is also toxic in high doses and should be used under medical supervision.


Few-flowered Fumitory, also known as Fumaria vaillantii, is a delicate and attractive annual plant belonging to the Fumariaceae family. Native to the Mediterranean region, this plant is widely distributed in many parts of Europe, including Italy, Greece, Spain, France, and the Balkans.


Few-flowered Fumitory is a low-growing plant, usually reaching a height of about 20-40 cm. Its slender, branched stems are pale green in color and bear alternate, pinnate leaves. The leaves are delicate, finely divided, and have a fern-like appearance. The flowers of Fumaria vaillantii are small, pinkish-purple, and arranged in loose, elongated racemes. They have a characteristic spur at the base of each petal, which gives the flowers a distinctive appearance. The plant blooms from March to May and produces small, oblong fruits containing several seeds.


Few-flowered Fumitory grows in a wide range of habitats, including disturbed areas, waste grounds, fields, and roadsides. It prefers well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. The plant is an annual species, meaning it completes its life cycle in a single growing season.


Few-flowered Fumitory has been traditionally used in herbal medicine for its diuretic, purgative, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used to treat various ailments, including liver and gallbladder disorders, digestive problems, and skin conditions. In modern times, the plant has gained attention for its potential as a natural remedy for various ailments, but further research is needed to confirm its effectiveness.

Conservation status

Few-flowered Fumitory is not considered a threatened species, and its populations are generally stable. However, like many other native plants, it is at risk of being displaced by invasive species and habitat loss. Therefore, it is important to conserve natural habitats and promote the use of native plants in landscaping and gardening.

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Few-flowered Fumitory is also known for its role as a food source for insects, particularly bees and butterflies. The plant's flowers provide nectar and pollen for these pollinators, making it an important species in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

In addition to its traditional medicinal uses, Few-flowered Fumitory has also been studied for its potential as a source of bioactive compounds. Researchers have found that the plant contains alkaloids, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals that have potential therapeutic applications. For example, some of the compounds found in Fumaria vaillantii have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which could be useful in the development of new drugs.

Despite its potential benefits, Few-flowered Fumitory is not widely cultivated or used in modern medicine. This is partly due to a lack of research into its properties and effectiveness, as well as the availability of other, more established medicinal plants.

Few-flowered Fumitory has also been used in traditional folk medicine practices for treating eye infections and conjunctivitis. It is said that a decoction of the plant's leaves and stems can be used as a compress for the eyes to alleviate inflammation and redness. However, it is important to note that these uses have not been extensively studied, and it is always best to consult a healthcare professional before using any natural remedies.

In terms of cultivation, Few-flowered Fumitory is relatively easy to grow and maintain. It can be grown from seed, and it prefers well-drained soil and a sunny to partially shaded location. However, as an annual plant, it will need to be replanted each year.

Few-flowered Fumitory also has some cultural significance. In ancient Greek mythology, the plant was associated with Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and harvest. It was believed that Demeter used the plant to create a potion that helped her recover from her grief over the loss of her daughter, Persephone.

In addition to its traditional medicinal uses, Few-flowered Fumitory has also been used in the production of natural dyes. The plant contains several compounds that can produce yellow and green dyes when extracted from the leaves and stems.

Few-flowered Fumitory is not the only species of Fumaria with medicinal uses. Fumaria officinalis, or common fumitory, is another species in the Fumariaceae family that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Like Few-flowered Fumitory, Fumaria officinalis is also known for its diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties.

In terms of its potential as a natural remedy, Few-flowered Fumitory is being studied for its ability to inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer cells. Researchers have found that the plant contains several compounds that can induce cell death in cancer cells, including breast and liver cancer cells. However, more research is needed to fully understand its potential in cancer treatment.

Overall, Few-flowered Fumitory is a valuable plant with a rich history and a variety of potential uses. Whether used for its medicinal properties, as a food source for pollinators, or simply as a decorative addition to a garden, this plant is worth knowing about and conserving for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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