Fumaria parviflora

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaFumariaceaeFumariaFumaria parviflora


This scrambling annual is almost exclusively found in arable fields on chalky soils, though may occasionally be found on other areas of disturbed ground near arable populations. It is usually associated with other uncommon arable species and, like the other small-flowered Fumaria species, is generally found in spring-sown crops. Lowland.



World Distribution

European Southern-temperate element.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Arable and horticultural (includes orchards, excludes domestic gardens)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 4

Reaction (Ellenberg): 8

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.6

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.1

Annual Precipitation (mm): 703

Height (cm): 47

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 128

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: -0.55

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Fumaria parviflora Lam.                           

Fine-leaved fumitory

Status: scarce



This weed is virtually confined to arable fields on the chalk, although it can occasionally be found on other areas of disturbed ground in the vicinity of the arable populations. In Breckland it was regarded as "a plant of the early phase of colonisation following the breaking-up of chalk grassland... as soon as the vegetation becomes dense the plant disappears" (Petch & Swann 1968). It is usually associated with other uncommon arable weeds, including Fumaria vaillantii, Legousia hybrida, Papaver argemone, P. hybridum and Valerianella dentata.

F. parviflora is a self-compatible, cleistogamous annual which fruits freely. Little is known about its germination requirements, but the seeds probably possess similar dormancy characteristics to F. densiflora.

This plant never grew in the same abundance as some arable weeds such as Centaurea cyanus and Ranunculus arvensis, but it was always more common than F. vaillantii. It has almost certainly become much more local since 1950, and even in sites where it has been known since the early 19th century, such as the Gog Magog Hills, it is now difficult to find. It has declined for the same reasons as F. densiflora: the widespread use of herbicides and its inability to compete with highly fertilised modern crop varieties.

This species is very common throughout the Mediterranean region, and extends north in western Europe to Britain (Jalas & Suominen 1991; Lidén 1986). It is also recorded from Macaronesia and is naturalised in both North and South America. 

Three varieties of F. parviflora, differing in the shape of their fruits, are recognised in Britain (Rich & Rich 1988). Var. parviflora and var. acuminata Clavaud are the most frequent variants. The endemic var. symei Pugsley has only been recorded once in recent years.



P. J. Wilson

Atlas text references

Atlas (31a)
de Bolòs O, Vigo J
1984.  Flora dels Països Catalans, I. Introducció. Licopodiàcies-Capparàcies.
Jalas & Suominen (1991)
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.