Wall Fumitory (Fumaria muralis)

Wall Fumitory (Fumaria muralis), one of a group of West European annuals which make themselves scrabbly nuisances of gardens, crops and damaged ground.

Perhaps mostly treated by early observers as synonymous with the Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis), this is one of several species of Fumaria so common to English gardens that their arrival in Australia was almost completely unremarked on. In all likelihood, each was brought to the colonies repeatedly within contaminated seed grain, and perhaps also in imported potted plants and other materials. Some authorities also pointed to past medicinal uses of the plant, although there is little evidence Fumarias were ever commercially distributed in Australia. Once established here, mechanical transport of soil presumably became a major distributor; ants also move the seeds.

The genus was said to be common at Sydney by the 1860s, and von Mueller had observed a Fumitory at Adelaide in 1850. On that basis, F. officinalis was included in the listing of naturalised plants in Hooker’s 1859 essay on the Flora of Australia. The small differences between species, and the desultory interest of the genus as a whole to early observers make the plants a difficult prospect both to correctly identify and to write about it. Nevertheless, as a fixture of the post-invasion Victorian springtime, Fumitory is nearly as ubiquitous as Soursob or Capeweed, if not quite as blinding.

Today, Wall Fumitory is most easily differentiated from the similarly pink-hued Tall Fumitory (Fumaria bastardii) by the dark pink / black tips of both its upper and lower petals (in F. bastardii the upper petal has little to no colour). Other details to look at include the shape of the upper petal and the seeds.

Early records identifying F. muralis in Victoria were made north of Bendigo (1877) and at Sale (1882), with a collection at Laverton in 1905 appearing to be the first metropolitan recording, with the usual proviso that introductions almost certainly began decades earlier here as elsewhere.

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Search for information about Fumaria muralis in the Flora of Victoria

View information and occurrences of Fumaria muralis on the Atlas of Living Australia

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