Definition of fumitory in English:



  • An Old World plant with spikes of small tubular pink or white flowers and finely divided greyish leaves, often considered a weed.

    • ‘It is one of the most common fumitories in the Mediterranean region.’
    • ‘Replicated across a range of WA soil types, the study examined annual ryegrass, wild radish, wild oats, wall fumitory, brome grass and barley grass persistence, in plots isolated to guard against the arrival of new seed.’
    • ‘Like other fumitories it is self-compatible and habitually self-fertilises.’
    • ‘This option may also be used to encourage declining arable plant communities e.g. species such as fuellens, fumitories, Corn Marigold and Corn Chamomile.’
    • ‘Purple ramping-fumitory was first recognised as a species separate from other fumitories in 1902.’
    • ‘There is also a key to the fumitories found in Cornwall, as well as an article about the work of the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.’
    • ‘One calls it the muskranunculus, whilst another classes it with the fumitories, probably because of its leaves.’
    • ‘Other fumitories have the tip of the lower petal like a spoon in that it is hollowed out, but the actual outline from directly above or below is parallel-sided.’
    • ‘Or it was from ancient times believed that species of fumitories sprang up spontaneously in fields of barley, without benefit of seeding itself, like smoke seeping from cracks in the earth, therefore was called ‘The Smoke of the Earth.’’
    • ‘This management will result in colourful displays of plants in field margins, such as corn marigolds and fumitories.’


Late Middle English: from Old French fumeterre, from medieval Latin fumus terrae smoke of the earth (because of its greyish leaves).