Chances are, you have noticed a pink intruder in your Tasmanian garden at this time of year. Fumaria is a common horticultural weed in Tasmanian vegetable patches and ornamental gardens.
Fumaria is also known as fumitory, carrot weed, beggary, fume-of-the-earth, fumiterre, fumusterre, God’s fingers and thumbs, snapdragon and wax dolls. Our horticulture certificate II students will tell you that there are many species within the genus Fumaria!
Fumaria is an annual herb. It’s usually found in disturbed areas like the veggie patch, where it grows into a tangled mess of lush green stems that are anywhere from 10 to 50cm long. The leaves are finely-divided often down to the midrib, segments flat, lance to pear shaped, pale, opposite. Leaves on young plants form a rosette. In Tasmania fumaria flowers anytime from late July through to about October. The flowers are small, somewhat tubular and narrow with a red to pink to purple colouring and darker tips.
Fumaria reproduces by seed , which can last in the ground several years. It is often encouraged to germinate following cultivation. This is a good time start control measures.
Pulling out by hand is easy to do and leaves large bare patches of ground. Gloves should be worn while doing this. Herbicides like glyphosate can be effective, but the seed bank in the soil will remain viable.
Fumaria is from the poppy family Papaveraceae and its leaves do look somewhat similar to a small poppy. It has had many medicinal uses in the past and some species of fumaria have been declared poisonous to stock. If you would like to brush up on your weed identification skills, have a look at some of our short horticulture courses in Hobart and around Tasmania, or even a horticulture certificate II or III course through GlobalNet Academy. Images: http://www.iewf.org/weedid/Fumaria_muralis.htm