Information on Pignut

Common Name: Pignut
Scientific Name: Conopodium majus
Irish Name: Cúlarán
Family Group: Apiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Pignut is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


There are only a few pockets of Ireland where this wildflower is absent, growing, as it does, in our woodlands, hedge banks and grassland. In late April it begins to show itself as an erect and spiky, slender, hairless plant, gradually unfurling its delicate, feathery leaves as it grows to its full height of about 50 cm. It bears umbels of tiny white flowers (3–6 cm across) on hollow, smooth stems and dainty little 2–3 pinnate leaves which are very finely divided, the upper clasping the stems, the lower basal leaves withering. It flowers from May to June. A native plant, it belongs to the Apiaceae family.   

I first recorded this plant in Kilternan, Co Dublin in 1976 and photographed it in Tintern, Co Wexford in 2010.  

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Pignut
Pignut

The rounded roots of the Pignut are similar to tubers or corms and were dug up by pigs with whom they were very popular. The old rhyme 'Here we go gathering nuts in May' referred to these nuts the taste of which was compared favourably to that of chestnuts or hazelnuts.

In County Donegal they were known as 'Siógaí prátaí' (fairy potatoes) and were eaten by humans as well as fairies.*

*From folklore related by Jim and Anne Toland, County Donegal.