Saturday, March 20, 2021

Bergamo Wall Plant – Common Fumitory or Earth Smoke

Earth Smoke (Fumaria officinalis) on a wall in Bergamo.Earth Smoke (Fumaria officinalis) on a wall in Bergamo.Botanical illustration of Fumaria officinalis.
Left and center: Earth Smoke on a wall in Bergamo.
Right: Botanical illustration of Fumaria officinalis.


Today's Bergamo Wall Plant ™ is Fumaria officinalis – a plant in the Poppy family (Papaveraceae). It has a few common names like the somewhat boring "Common Fumitory" as well the provocative, "Earth Smoke", which sounds like a name you might choose if you had to choose a spirit name.  According to Wikipedia, "smoke" because of "the translucent color of its flowers, giving them the appearance of smoke or of hanging in smoke, and the slightly gray-blue haze color of its foliage, also resembling smoke coming from the ground, especially after morning dew."

Continuing with the etymology, this from The Names of Plants on the origin of the genus name Fumaria:

fumaria – smoke, fumus, Dioscorides' name, καπνος, referred to the effect of the juice on the eyes being the same as that of smoke, but the medieval Latin name, fumus terrae, refers to the appearance of the Fumitory plants as smoke arising from the ground.

Earth smoke is a source of fumaric acid, an organic compound that has a ton of interesting uses as discussed here, including interesting research on reducing methane gas produced in the first stomach of ruminants, a significant contributor to climate change.

F. officinalis is definitely a sun lover. It normally flowers appear between April and October, and we can maybe explain it's early blooming time here due to its location in a sunny spot on Via G. Marieni In Bergamo. Borrowing from our previous post, Bergamo – A Running Meditation,  this road honors General Giovanni Marieni (1858 – 1933), an important figure in the modernization of the Italian air force in World War I. The lane wraps around his ancestral family property sitting at the end of a small ridge, which happens to be on our normal running route.



Earth Smoke (Fumaria officinalis) on a wall on Via Marieni in Bergamo.Earth Smoke (Fumaria officinalis) on a wall on Via Marieni in Bergamo.View of Via Marieni, Bergamo.
Left and center: Earth Smoke on a wall on Via Marieni in Bergamo.
Right: View of Via Marieni.

A list of our wall plants of Bergamo thus far:

  •  Aubrieta deltoidea - Purple Rock Cress and Iberis sempervirens - Evergreen Candytuft (post)
  • Geranium robertianum (post) - Stinking Bob
  • Erigeron karvinskianus (post) - Mexican Fleabane
  • Asplenium ceterach (post) - Rustyback Fern
  • Asplenium ruta-muraria (post) - Wall Rue
  • Asplenium trichomanes (post) - Maidenhair spleenwort
  • Parietaria diffusa (post) – Pellitory
  • Cymbalaria muralis (post) - Pennywort

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