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Foeniculum vulgare ‘Orion’ (photo courtesy of Burpee Home Gardens)
Foeniculum vulgare ‘Orion’ (photo courtesy of Burpee Home Gardens)

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Zone
Zones 2B, 3-11, 14-24, 29-41, H1, H2
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Foeniculum vulgare

Common Fennel
Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
Annuals, Herbs, Perennials

This plant grows 3–5 ft. tall, and is similar in appearance to dill (Anethum graveolens), but its yellow-green foliage, though finely cut, is coarser. The plant produces flat clusters of yellow flowers that insects love in summer. Cultivated for its licorice-flavored seeds and young leaves, fennel is a perennial in zones where it is well adapted; a winter annual in desert Zones 12 and 13.

Use seeds to season baked goods; use young leaves as a garnish for salads, fish, and other dishes. Common fennel often grows as a roadside or garden weed (in Hawaii and parts of California, it can be invasive); it’s attractive until the tops turn brown, and even then birds like the seeds. New stems grow in spring from the perennial root.

‘Copper Leaf’

From the Mediterranean. Grows to 6 ft. tall from clumps; produces bronzy-green foliage and yellow summer flowers that insects love, and seeds that have a sweet licorice flavor.

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