Fumaria officinalis. Fumitory.
Nat. Ord. — Fumariaceae. Sex. Syst. — Diadelphia Hexagynia.
Description. — This is an annual glaucous plant, with a suberect, much-branched, spreading, leafy, and angular stem, growing from ten to fifteen inches high. The leaves are mostly alternate, bipinnate or tripinnate ; leaflets wedge-shaped, cut into flat, lanceolate segments. The flowers are small, flesh-colored, tipped with crimson, nodding, the pedicels becoming erect in fruit. Racemes opposite to the leaves, stalked, erect, many-flowered, rather lax. Bracts lanceolate, acute, not half the length of the pedicels, especially when in fruit. Petals four, unequal, one of them with a short, rounded spur at the base. Calyx colored, toothed, deciduous. Fruit or nut ovoid or globose, indehiscent, emarginate, one-seeded, and valveless ; seeds crestless.
History. — This is a small European plant, naturalized in this country, growing in cultivated grounds, and bearing red flowers from May to August. The leaves are the officinal part: they are inodorous, have a bitter, saline taste, and are very succulent, yielding by expression a juice which has the sensible and medicinal properties of the plant. The whole plant abounds in saline substances. By evaporating the expressed juice, or a decoction of the leaves, an extract is obtained, which throws out upon its surface a copious saline efflorescence.
Properties and Uses. — Tonic, laxative, alterative, and diuretic. Esteemed as a valuable remedy in visceral obstructions, in scorbutic affections, in leprosy, and many forms of cutaneous disease. The expressed juice may be used in the dose of two ounces or more per day ; or a decoction of the dried or fresh leaves and tops may be used freely. Two ounces of the flowers and tops infused in three pints of Madeira wine, and taken twice a day in doses of from two to four fluidounces, will strengthen the stomach and improve the appetite.
Off. Prep. — Infusum Fumariae Vinum.