Fumitory is one of those weeds that I grew up with so constantly that when I found out it used to be considered a “challenging specimen plant” to grow for British flower shows I had trouble believing it. It’s not like I’ve ever seen fumitory struggle to take over anything.
There are several species of fumitory, genus name Fumaria. I think my local one here is Fumaria capreolata, but I haven’t confirmed that. It’s certainly a common weed in Australia. As weeds go, I don’t mind it. It’s quite easy to weed out. You find a mound like in the photo above, you lift the trailing stems up to see where they originate, you pull the plant out with minimal effort, and suddenly you’ve made a big clear patch. It’s very easy to clear. But that presumes you have time and ability to clear it at crucial points. There are areas of the local river that are swamped with the stuff. If uncleared, whatever’s under it will struggle a little for winter light. It does die back on its own in secondspring, but that leaves then a big heap of drying vegetation susceptible to fire or to becoming snake habitat. I think it breaks down easily enough, but there’s a little time in there where it’s a bit inconvenient.
From a weedscaping point of view, Fumitory is one of the plants I have to keep an eye on and choose where it’s allowed to grow. It makes a wonderful ground cover, protecting soil rampantly. It will block less strong or slower-growing seedlings from coming up and getting tall enough soon enough though by its sheer vigour. So when it took over the garlic patch, that was fine. When it took over the alexanders-and-fenugreek patch, it had to be knocked back a bit. If it grew like that starting in secondspring I’d enjoy it a lot more, as I’d be able to use it as a natural shelter for some seedlings to get them started. But it takes off in autumn so it’s blocking winter light and then gives no shelter for summer. The big masses of plant compost down very nicely though and give me good green matter to mix with all my high-nitrogen stuff so it’s nice to be able to wander out, pick two plants and have a binfull. That doesn’t prevent the seeds spreading at all, but I’m ok with seedy compost. I also think I may be able to weed plants off in September, let them dry and then use the dried mass as a seedling shelter, but I haven’t tried that yet.