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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][4][5][6][7]. A delicious aniseed flavour[8], the young leaves are best since older ones soon become tough[K]. They are often used as a garnish on raw or cooked dishes and make a very pleasant addition to salads[8]. They help to improve digestion and so are particularly useful with oily foods[9]. The leaves are difficult to store dried[10], though this does not really matter since they can often be harvested all year round, especially if the plants are in a warm, sheltered position[K].

Leaf stalks and flower heads - raw or cooked[11][12][13][8]. A similar aniseed flavour to the leaves[K]. The aromatic seeds are used as a flavouring in cakes, bread, stuffings etc[3][4][5][14][7][8]. They have a similar flavour to the leaves[K] and also improve the digestion[9]. The sprouted seeds can be added to salads[8]. An essential oil from the fully ripened and dried seed is used as a food flavouring in similar ways to the whole seed[15][16][8][17]. Root - cooked[18]. Somewhat parsnip-like.

The leaves or the seeds can be used to make a pleasant-tasting herbal tea[19][8].

Unknown part


Material uses

The seed yields up to 5% of an essential oil[15][4][16]. This is used medicinally, as a food flavouring, in toothpastes, soaps, perfumery, air fresheners etc[15][16][20]. 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[20]. 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[20]. 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[17].

The dried plant is an insect repellent[11][18], the crushed leaves are effective for keeping dogs free of fleas[21]. The plant was formerly used as a strewing herb[21].

Yellow and brown dyes are obtained from the flowers and leaves combined[22].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Fennel has a long history of herbal use and is a commonly used household remedy, being useful in the treatment of a variety of complaints, especially those of the digestive system[9]. The seeds, leaves and roots can be used, but the seeds are most active medicinally and are the part normally used[4]. An essential oil is often extracted from the fully ripened and dried seed for medicinal use, though it should not be given to pregnant women[4][20].

The plant is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactogogue, hallucinogenic, laxative, stimulant and stomachic[4][23][6][14][24][25][26][27][20]. An infusion is used in the treatment of indigestion, abdominal distension, stomach pains etc[28]. It helps in the treatment of kidney stones and, when combined with a urinary disinfectant like Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, makes an effective treatment for cystitis[28]. It can also be used as a gargle for sore throats and as an eyewash for sore eyes and conjunctivitis[28]. Fennel is often added to purgatives in order to allay their tendency to cause gripe, and also to improve the flavour[4]. An infusion of the seeds is a safe and effective cure for wind in babies[9]. An infusion of the root is used to treat urinary disorders[20].

An essential oil obtained from the seed is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Normalising'[29]. 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[15]. The seed can also be sown in situ in the autumn[4][12]. In many gardens it self sows freely. Division in March as the new growth appears[19][10]. The plants are very tolerant of disturbance, we have found divisions to take well at any time of the year, though these divisions are never as good as seed-sown plants[K].

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


An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils but prefers a sunny dry position[4][19][12][10]. It grows well in sandy soils[30] and is drought tolerant once established[31]. Plants often self-sow freely in the garden[K]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[32].

Although hardy in most parts of Britain, plants are liable to die out over the winter if the soil is not well-drained or the weather is persistently cold and wet[20]. Fennel is often cultivated in the herb garden for its edible and medicinal uses, there are some named varieties[8]. Especially in mild winters, the leaves can be available all year round[K]. It is best to cut a few plants back to ground level occasionally during the growing season, thus ensuring a constant supply of fresh young shoots[4]. In a dry summer make sure that you water the cut-down clump or it might not regrow that year[K]. Fennel is also grown commercially as a medicinal plant and for its essential oil[4][20]. Fennel is in general a poor companion plant in the garden. It inhibits the growth of nearby plants, especially beans, tomatoes and kohl rabi[11][33]. It is itself inhibited by wormwood and coriander[11][33]. However, the flowering plant attracts beneficial insects such as bees, parasitic wasps, tachinid flies and hoverflies to the garden. The presence of these creatures will help to maintain a natural balance of insects in the garden and help prevent infestations by aphis etc[20].

It is best not to grow fennel and dill (Anethum graveolens) close to each other since hybridisation can occur and the resulting seedlings will be of indeterminate flavour[20].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Foeniculum vulgare. 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.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Foeniculum vulgare
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
  • Drought
  • 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

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"image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Foeniculum vulgare.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


  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. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  4. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  5. ? Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
  6. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
  7. ? Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden. Ten Speed Press ISBN 0-89815-041-8 ()
  8. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  9. ? Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
  10. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  11. ? Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-262-7 (1979-00-00)
  12. ? Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant. Blackie and Son. (1878-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.1 Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round. Hamlyn (1980-00-00)
  14. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  15. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  16. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  17. ? Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)
  18. ? De. Bray. L. The Wild Garden. ()
  19. ? Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-050-0 (1977-00-00)
  20. ? 20.0020.0120.0220.0320.0420.0520.0620.0720.0820.0920.1020.11 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  21. ? Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting. Cassell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-304-34324-2 (1993-00-00)
  22. ? 22.022.1 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
  23. ? 23.023.1 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
  24. ? 24.024.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
  25. ? 25.025.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
  26. ? 26.026.1 Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
  27. ? 27.027.1 Emboden. W. Narcotic Plants Studio Vista ISBN 0-289-70864-8 (1979-00-00)
  28. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
  29. ? 29.029.1 Westwood. C. Aromatherapy - A guide for home use. Amberwood Publishing Ltd ISBN 0-9517723-0-9 (1993-00-00)
  30. ? Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
  31. ? Chatto. B. The Dry Garden. Dent ISBN 0460045512 (1982-00-00)
  32. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)
  33. ? 33.033.1 Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)
  34. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-17

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Facts about "Foeniculum vulgare"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyUmbelliferae +
Belongs to genusFoeniculum +
Has common nameFennel +
Has drought toleranceTolerant +
Has edible partUnknown part +, Leaves +, Root +, Seeds + and Stem +
Has edible useSeasoning + and Unknown use +
Has environmental toleranceHigh wind + and Drought +
Has fertility typeSelf fertile + and Insects +
Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
Has hardiness zone5 +
Has imageFoeniculum vulgare.JPG +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useDye +, Essential +, Repellent + and Strewing +
Has mature height1.5 +
Has mature width1 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAnalgesic +, Antiinflammatory +, Antispasmodic +, Aromatherapy +, Aromatic +, Carminative +, Diuretic +, Emmenagogue +, Expectorant +, Galactogogue +, Hallucinogenic +, Stimulant + and Stomachic +
Has primary imageFoeniculum vulgare.JPG +
Has search namefoeniculum vulgare + and x +
Has shade toleranceNo shade +
Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
Has soil teclayture preferenceClay +
Has soil teloamyture preferenceLoamy +
Has soil tesandyture preferenceSandy +
Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomy nameFoeniculum vulgare +
Has water requirementsmoderate +
Is deciduous or evergreenEvergreen +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +