It is an herbaceous annual plant, which grows weakly erect and scrambling, with stalks about 10 to 50 cm long. The fruit is an achene. It contains alkaloids, potassium salts, and tannins. It is also a major source of fumaric acid
It grows in cultivated fields or dry soil plains of the Mediterranean area and temperate Asia.
It was traditionally thought to be good for the eyes, and to remove skin blemishes. In modern times herbalists use it to treat skin diseases, and conjunctivitis; as well as to cleanse the kidneys. However, Howard (1987) warns that fumitory is poisonous and should only be used "under the direction of a medical herbalist.