Foeniculum vulgare Miller

Sweet Fennel
Apiaceae (Carrot Family)


Sweet fennel is a tall, erect, glabrous, herbaceous perennial with glaucous, striate branching stems and a strong aroma of anise or licorice.  The leaves are alternate and about a foot long, ovate to deltoid in outline, and pinnately dissected into many filiform divisions.  The leaf stems are conspicuously sheathed at the base.  The yellow flowers are in large compound umbels with 15-40 unequal rays on ± bare stems rising well above the leaves, and the five petals are wide with narrow tips.  There are five stamens.  The calyx is rudimentary-vestigial or absent.  The fruit is a 3/4" long oblong to ovoid, slightly laterally flattened schizocarp with prominent ribs which splits into two 1-seeded compartments.  Sweet fennel is very common on dry slopes and ridges, in openings in chaparral, by the sides of roads, trails and streambeds, and in fields and waste places below about 1000'.   It is widespread and abundant throughout the California Floristic Province, is a native of southern Europe, and blooms from May to September.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Foeniculum 2) vulgare.
Pronunciation: fee-NIK-yoo-lum vul-GARE-ee.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.


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