Fumitory is a low shrub with gray pointed leaves, and from a distance the plant can have the wispy appearance of smoke thus given the name earth-smoke.
The plant is in the Fumariaceae family and fumitory of one kind or another grows in most parts of the world including Iran and South Africa.
Fumitory is an aperient, depurative, cholagogue (stimulating the flow of bile), diuretic, laxative, sedative, stomachic, sudorific and tonic.
The herb is taken as a tea for indigestion, and can be supportive in treating gallbladder and liver conditions.
The name is said to be derived either from the fact that its whitish, blue-green colour gives it the appearance of smoke rising from the ground, or, according to Pliny, because the juice of the plant brings on such a flow of tears that the sight becomes dim as with smoke, and hence its reputed use in affections of the eye.
Traditional preparation involved expressing the juice and evaporating it. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat eczema and other dermatologic conditions.
Fumitory has a long history of use in traditional medicine and has been investigated for its therapeutic potential in the management of cardiovascular and hepatobiliary disorders and psoriasis.
A decoction makes a curative lotion for milk-crust on the scalp of an infant as well; it is also used for a tonic as it contains vitamins which help to boost the immune system.
The fruits have rich content of compounds that are beneficial for our health, including tannins, alkaloids and salts of potassium.
In addition fumitory fruits also enclose high amounts of fumaric acid.
One can easily recognize this plant since it has stems that are angled, delicately split leaves and deep pink, zygomorphic flowers.
The seeds of fumitory sprout during the early part of spring and the plants are generally ready to blossom in May.
Fumitory plant possesses the aptitude to enduring long periods of frosting during autumn.