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Foeniculum vulgare

Scientific Name: Foeniculum vulgare
Common Name: Fennel, Sweet Fennel, or Biscuit root

Line Drawing:

Morphological Description:
Foeniculum is an herbaceous perennial in the Apiaceae family
It grows upright in a bush like form
Large, flattened, yellow, showy flowers bloom June to July
Fragrant and feathery, soft in texture, and appear needlelike

Habitat & Basic Biology (life history, dispersal abilities):
Foeniculum grows to be about 3-5 feet and spreads about 2-3 feet
The flowers are followed by aromatic fennel seeds and are very attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds
Low maintenance and need full sun with medium water
Easily grown in moist, rich, well drained soils (often near the sea)

Functional traits (photosynthetic rates, phenology, etc.):
Perennial herb
Seeds easily and can seed itself through a garden or area, but also relies on pollinators to spread

Distribution (geographic range):


Found in Mediterranean climates; also scattered through coastal climates in San Francisco, Salinas, and Sacramento

Control Methods:
Mechanical: manual methods to reduce exposure to anything that can spread seeds; management will require preventing or reducing disturbance that will spread density; cutting and mowing will get rid of plant temporarily

Evolution (of traits in novel range): native to Southern Europe and Mediterranean region; has occurred in California for at least 120 years, not sure how it got here but has escaped cultivation
Reproduces from root and crown

Performance of invader in CA (interactions with species native to S. CA):
Invades areas where soil has been disturbed and can prevent other natives from growing in same area
Outcompetes natives for light, nutrients, and water
Very persistent; seeds can persist in soil for years without germinating

Natural enemies:

List of References:

Calflora: Information on California plants for education, research and conservation,
with data contributed by public and private institutions and individuals, including the Consortium of Calif. Herbaria.
[web application]. 2014. Berkeley, California: The Calflora Database [a non-profit organization].
Available:   (Accessed: Jun 09, 2014).

“Foeniculum Vulgare ‘Purpureum’ – Plant Finder.” Foeniculum Vulgare. Missouri Botanical Garden, n.d. Web. 09 June 2014. <>.
Missouri Botanical Garden performs botanical research in addition to implementing practices of conservation biology.

“Invasive Plants of California’s Wildland.” Cal-IPC. Cal-IPC, n.d. Web. 09 June 2014. <>.