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Conopodium majus

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Conopodium majus
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Conopodium
C. majus
Binomial name
Conopodium majus

Bunium flexuosum Stokes
Conopodium denudatum Koch

Conopodium majus is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant in the celery family Apiaceae. Its underground part resembles a chestnut and is sometimes eaten as a wild or cultivated root vegetable. The plant has many English names (many of them shared with Bunium bulbocastanum, a related plant with similar appearance and uses) variously including kippernut, cipernut, arnut, jarnut, hawknut, earth chestnut, groundnut, and earthnut. From its popularity with pigs come the names pignut, hognut, and more indirectly Saint Anthony's nut, for Anthony the Great or Anthony of Padua, both patron saints of swineherds. (See groundnut, earthnut, and hognut for other plants which share these names.)[1]


It has a smooth, slender, stem, up to 40 cm (16 in) high, much-divided leaves, and small, white flowers in many-rayed terminal compound umbels.[2]: 849, 858 [3]: 186 

The rounded "nut" (inconsistently described by authorities as a tuber,[2] corm, or root) is similar to a chestnut in its brown colour and its size (up to 25 mm (0.98 in) in diameter), and its sweet, aromatic flavour has been compared to that of the chestnut, hazelnut, sweet potato, and Brazil nut. Palatable and nutritious, its eating qualities are widely praised, and it is popular among wild food foragers, but it remains a minor crop, due in part to its low yields and difficulty of harvest.[citation needed]


The plant is common and native to western Europe, the British Isles and Norway.[4] It grows in hedgerows, woods and fields[2] and is an indicator of long-established grassland.[citation needed]

Cultivation details[edit]

Never found on alkaline soils in the wild.[5] See the plant's native habitat for other ideas on its cultivation needs. This species responds to cultivation by producing larger tubers.[6] With careful selective breeding, it is probably possible to produce a much more productive plant.[7]

Pignut in early spring in Scotland.

In culture[edit]

Shakespeare on pignuts[edit]

"I prithee, let me bring thee where crabs grow; and I with my long nails will dig thee pignuts".[8]

Quote from Culpeper[edit]

"A description of them were needless, for every child knows them. Government and virtues: They are something hot and dry in quality, under the dominion of Venus; they provoke lust exceedingly, and stir up those sports she is mistress of; the seed is excellent good to provoke urine; and so also is the root, but it does not perform it so forcibly as the seed doth. The root being dried and beaten into powder, and the powder being made into an electuary, is a singular remedy for spitting and pissing of blood, as the former chestnut was for coughs."- Nicholas Culpeper's Complete Herbal[9]


  1. ^ Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
  2. ^ a b c Stace, C. A. (2019). New Flora of the British Isles (Fourth ed.). Middlewood Green, Suffolk, U.K.: C & M Floristics. ISBN 978-1-5272-2630-2.
  3. ^ Blamey, M.; Fitter, R.; Fitter, A (2003). Wild flowers of Britain and Ireland: The Complete Guide to the British and Irish Flora. London: A & C Black. ISBN 978-1-4081-7950-5.
  4. ^ "Conopodium majus (Gouan) Loret". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  5. ^ Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder.
  6. ^ Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain.
  7. ^ Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
  8. ^ Caliban, The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  9. ^ "Chestnut (Earth)". Culpeper's Complete Herbal. W. Foulsham and Co. 1975. p. 87. ISBN 0-572-00203-3.

External links[edit]