Information on Fennel

Common Name: Fennel
Scientific Name: Foeniculum vulgare
Irish Name: Finéal
Family Group: Apiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Fennel is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

Found in grassy places, on coastal locations and roadsides, Fennel was most probably introduced into Ireland from the shores of the Mediterranean.  It's a strongly aromatic, pale grey-green, perennial which grows to a height of 2m on dry ground.  It bears its bright yellow flowers (2-3mm across) in wide terminal umbels which have 20 spokes or rays but no bracts and they bloom from June to October.  The foliage is grey, sometimes bronzy, and is pinnately divided into long, feathery threads.  The plant stem is stiff and smooth, solid at first but becoming hollow.  Fennel belongs to the family Apiaceae 

My earliest record of Fennel is beside Killiney Beach, Co Dublin in 1973 and I photographed it on Dún Laoghaire Pier, Co Dublin in 2005.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

A most useful culinary herb, Fennel is a great plant to have in the garden.  The leaves can be used in sauces for fish dishes or scattered on grilling fish for the barbecue; it can be chopped into tomato soups and pasta dishes; the stalks can replace celery, raw or cooked; the seeds may be infused with hot water and make a soothing drink and of course were once the main flavour in absinthe; the roots may be thinly sliced and cooked in stock to make a simple summer soup.  However, one word of caution: make sure you know for certain that it is Fennel before you use any parts of the plant.