Herb: Bishop's Weed

Latin name: Ammi majus

Family: Umbelliferae

Medicinal use of Bishop's Weed:

The seed is contraceptive, diuretic and tonic. An infusion is used to calm the digestive system, whilst it is also used in the treatment of asthma and angina. A decoction of the ground-up seed, eaten after intercourse, appears able to prevent implantation of the fertilized ovum in the uterus. This decoction is also used as a gargle in the treatment of toothache. The seed contains furanocoumarins (including bergapten), which stimulate pigment production in skin that is exposed to bright sunlight. The plant is widely cultivated in India for these furanocoumarins which are used in the treatment of vitiligo (piebald skin) and psoriasis.

Description of the plant:


75 cm
(2 feet)

June to


Habitat of the herb:

Waste places in Britain.

Edible parts of Bishop's Weed:

Seed - used as a condiment.

Other uses of the herb:

The root is chewed to give protection from strong sunlight. It contains 8-methoxypsoralen which stimulates production of pigment in skin exposed to U.V. light. Caution is advised, however, since it can cause side-effects. Other reports suggest that it is the seeds that are used.

Propagation of Bishop's Weed:

Seed - sow spring or autumn in situ.

Cultivation of the herb:

Waste places in Britain.

Known hazards of Ammi majus:

The root contains 8-methoxypsoralen, this stimulates the production of pigmentation in skin exposed to ultra-violet light, but it can cause side-effects. Use with caution. Skin contact with the sap is said to cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.