PIGNUT

Conopodium majus

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8green
morph
morph8hemizygo morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZumbel
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8fluted

6th June 2013, Seathwaite, Borrowdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
A shortish umbellifer to 40cm (up to 75cm) occupying woods, grassland, hedgerows and beside walls.


10th June 2009, Smardale, Yorkshire Dales. Photo: © RWD
It doesn't grow this high, your Author was holding a specimen up out of the lower grass clutter but out of the wind. A slender and hairless perennial which arises from an edible tuber, which pigs will route out with vigour.


6th June 2013, Seathwaite, Borrowdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
A leaf emerges from every stem branch. The stem leaves are long and needle-like.


6th June 2013, Seathwaite, Borrowdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Stem leaves are pinnate, this one 2-pinnate. A small hardly-inflated bract sheaths the emerging stem. Leaflets have short hardly-visible hairs only along the edges.


6th June 2013, Seathwaite, Borrowdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Lower stem leaves broader. The junction with the main stem has a small hardly-inflated bract.


10th June 2009, Smardale, Yorkshire Dales. Photo: © RWD
Showing just one umbel. Bracteoles under each sub-umbel nay or may not be present, and quite often only one bracteole (central sub-umbel).


10th June 2009, Smardale, Yorkshire Dales. Photo: © RWD
Showing a sub-umbel. Note that the ventral umbel (lower right) has turned to fruit.


10th June 2009, Smardale, Yorkshire Dales. Photo: © RWD
Central sub-umbel and the fruits. This one has several narrow lanceolate bracteoles beneath it (three).


6th June 2013, Seathwaite, Borrowdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Flowers slightly zygomorphic, smaller ones almost actinomorphic.


6th June 2013, Seathwaite, Borrowdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
With five white petals and a central double blob of pale-green that will become the fruit. Curled petals with a central fold and five white stamens with a white/cream anther on the ends.


6th June 2013, Seathwaite, Borrowdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
A sub-umbel turned to fruit with purple styles that are erect, and curve outwards slightly at the tip like circlip pliers.


6th June 2013, Seathwaite, Borrowdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The fruits are double-barrelled and narrower end on.


14th May 2010, Helsington, Kendal, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
In late Winter the basal leaves with broader (but still narrow) leaflets start to cover the ground. They wither away by the time the plant has flowered leaving only the needle-like stem leaves on the plant.


2nd April 2014, Yarrow Valley Country Park, Chorley, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
One lower leaf with narrow leaflets. It is two to three pinnate, this leaf being tripinnate. The rachis (stalk) has a central groove down the upper surface.


14th May 2010, Helsington, Kendal, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The obverse of the leaf has a rounded rachis (stalk).


27th May 2016, a garden, Cairngorms, Scotland Photo: © Sarah Millson
This is the buried 'nut' which pigs go out of their way to dig out of the ground with their snout in order to consume the delicacy with great joy. It is buried quite deep, as can be seen by the white parts of the stem which never otherwise sees light of day.


Some similarities to : Great Pignut Bunium bulbocastanum, a related plant slightly taller than Pignut, Caraway (Carum carvi) which has feather-like stem leaves a little like those of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), or Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) where the flowers are white on long sepal tubes and hardly open - [all plants belonging to the same Umbellifer Family (Apiaceae)]

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

No relation to : White Pigweed (Amaranthus albus), Prostrate Pigweed (Amaranthus blitoides), Pigmy Rush (Juncus pygmaeus) or New-Zealand Pigmyweed (Crassula hemlmsii) [plants with similar names belonging to totally different families].

The plant springs from a small roundish underground tuber which is edible, tasting hot and dry, but which is diuretic. It was popular in previous centuries, and is still sought after by pigs, who feverishly sniff them out and dig them up with their snouts to eat.


  Conopodium majus  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Apiaceae  

Distribution
 family8Carrot family8Apiaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Conopodium
Conopodium
(Pignut)

PIGNUT

Conopodium majus

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]