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Published In: The Gardeners Dictionary: eighth edition Foeniculum no. 1. 1768. (Gard. Dict. (ed. 8)) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/4/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced


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1. Foeniculum vulgare Mill. (fennel)

Pl. 207 h–j; Map 861

Plants functionally annual or biennial in Missouri (perennial farther south), glabrous, glaucous, with taproots. Stems 50–200 cm long, erect or ascending. Leaves alternate and sometimes also basal (1 or 2 basal leaves occasionally present at flowering), short-petiolate to nearly sessile (basal leaves sometimes long-petiolate), the sheathing bases of at least the larger leaves 3–10 cm long, slightly to moderately inflated, turning tan and papery with age, the uppermost leaves sometimes reduced to bladeless sheaths. Leaf blades 3–30 cm long, ovate to broadly triangular-ovate in outline, those of the basal to median stem leaves pinnately 3–5 times dissected, the ultimate segments 4–40 mm long, linear, short-tapered to an abrupt, sharp point at the tip; those of the upper stem leaves progressively reduced, 1 or 2 times dissected or sometimes bladeless. Inflorescences terminal and axillary, compound umbels, short- to long-stalked. Involucre absent. Rays mostly numerous, 1.0–6.5 cm long, unequal in length. Involucel absent. Flowers 12 to numerous in each umbellet, the stalks 2–10 mm long, unequal in length. Sepals absent. Petals obovate, rounded or bluntly pointed at the tip, yellow. Ovaries glabrous. Fruits 3.5–4.0 mm long, oblong in outline, slightly flattened laterally, glabrous, dark brown with lighter, yellowish ribs, each mericarp with 5 ribs, these more or less angled but lacking wings. 2n=22. May–September.

Introduced, uncommon, widely scattered (native of Europe, Asia, Africa; introduced widely in North America, Central America, South America, Caribbean Islands). Railroads, roadsides, and open, disturbed areas.

The fruits and herbage of fennel are used to flavor various foods, and the fruits are also sometimes used to flavor confections and liquors. The young foliage and stems, as well as the roots, are sometimes eaten raw in salads or cooked. Aromatic oils with an odor similar to that of anise (Pimpinella anisum L., another Apiaceae) are extracted from the fruits as an ingredient in perfume, soap, and bath oil fragrances. Medicinally, the species has been used in tonics, mostly for various gastrointestinal ailments.



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