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Toxic parts

Skin contact with the sap or essential oil is said to cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people[1][2]. Ingestion of the oil can cause vomiting, seizures and pulmonary oedema[2].

Edible uses


Leaves - raw or cooked[3]. A delicious aniseed flavour[4], the young leaves are best since older ones soon become tough. They are often used as a garnish on raw or cooked dishes or added to salads[4]. The leaves are difficult to store dried[5].

Leaf stalks and flower heads - raw or cooked[6][7][3][4]. An aniseed flavour[K]. The aromatic seeds are used as a flavouring in cakes, bread, stuffings etc[8][9][10][11][12][4]. The sprouted seeds can be added to salads[4]. An essential oil from the seed is used as a food flavouring in similar ways to the whole seed[13][14][4]. Root - cooked[15]. The flavour is somewhat parsnip-like.

The leaves or the seeds can be used to make a herb tea[16][4].


Material uses

The seed yields up to 5% of an essential oil[13][9][14]. This is used medicinally, as a food flavouring, in toothpastes, soaps, perfumery, air fresheners etc[13][14][17]. The flavour of fennel oil depends upon its two main constituents. 'Fenchone' is a bitter tasting element whilst 'anethole' has a sweet anise-like flavour[17]. The proportions of these two ingredients varies according to strain and region. Plants growing in the Mediterranean and southern Europe usually have a sweet oil whilst plants growing in central and northern Europe usually produce a more bitter oil[17]. The quality of the oil also depends upon how well the seed has been dried - the oil from fully ripened and dried seeds being much sweeter and more fragrant[18].

The dried plant is an insect repellent[6][15], the crushed leaves are effective for keeping dogs free of fleas[19]. The plant was formerly used as a strewing herb[19].

Yellow and brown dyes are obtained from the flowers and leaves combined[20].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Fennel is a commonly used household remedy, being useful in the treatment of a variety of complaints, especially those of the digestive system. The seeds, leaves and roots can be used, but the seeds are most active medicinally and are the part normally used[9]. An essential oil is often extracted from the seed for medicinal use, though it should not be given to pregnant women[9][17]. The plant is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactogogue, hallucinogenic, laxative, stimulant and stomachic[9][21][22][11][23][24][25][26][17]. Fennel is often added to purgatives in order to allay their tendency to cause gripe, and also to improve the flavour[9].

An infusion of the root is used to treat urinary disorders[17].

An essential oil obtained from the seed is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Normalising'[27]. The essential oil is bactericidal, carminative and stimulant[1]. Some caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity[2].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown in early spring in situ[13]. Division in March as the new growth appears[16][5].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Foeniculum vulgare dulce. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in most soils[13] but prefers a sunny dry position[5].

A cultivar of F. vulgare, this is not the genuine Florence fennel since it does not have swollen leaf stems[5]. It is used in much the same way as fennel. See F. vulgare azoricum for the genuine Florence fennel[K]. The flowers attract bees and hoverflies[28].

Fennel is a poor companion plant in the garden, it inhibits the growth of nearby plants, especially beans, tomatoes and kohl rabi[6][29]. It is itself inhibited by wormwood and coriander[6][29].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Foeniculum vulgare dulce. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Foeniculum vulgare dulce.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Foeniculum vulgare dulce
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
  2. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
  3. ? Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round. Hamlyn (1980-00-00)
  4. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  5. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  6. ? Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-262-7 (1979-00-00)
  7. ? 7.07.1 Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant. Blackie and Son. (1878-00-00)
  8. ? 8.08.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  9. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  10. ? 10.010.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
  11. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden. Ten Speed Press ISBN 0-89815-041-8 ()
  13. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  14. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  15. ? De. Bray. L. The Wild Garden. ()
  16. ? Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-050-0 (1977-00-00)
  17. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  18. ? 18.018.1 Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)
  19. ? Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting. Cassell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-304-34324-2 (1993-00-00)
  20. ? 20.020.1 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
  21. ? 21.021.1 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
  22. ? 22.022.1 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
  23. ? 23.023.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
  24. ? 24.024.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
  25. ? 25.025.1 Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
  26. ? 26.026.1 Emboden. W. Narcotic Plants Studio Vista ISBN 0-289-70864-8 (1979-00-00)
  27. ? 27.027.1 Westwood. C. Aromatherapy - A guide for home use. Amberwood Publishing Ltd ISBN 0-9517723-0-9 (1993-00-00)
  28. ? Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden. ()
  29. ? 29.029.1 Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)