This plant grows in large amounts near where I live, and I want to learn more about it. It smells very good and I would like to know what its possible uses are.

I believe it is a type of aniseed or fennel, but need to know the latin name or precise name... thanks!

EDIT: More images!

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • Please add a few more pics of the entire plant!! I know quite a few plants that smell like this and even more with umbels like this. Don't try eating it just in case...ok?
    – stormy
    Aug 28 '15 at 0:06
  • Thanks @stormy! I added a link to more images because of course I'm limited in how many images I can post for now (which seems ridiculous but hey I didn't make this website). Feel free to edit the post and include the images if you have credentials! Thanks :) Aug 28 '15 at 0:41
  • Welcome fabrice! I tried to download a picture from that site but couldn't due to a technical problem. If you have your own pictures, you can add as many as you like. This looks like one you took. Could you possibly take one of the whole plant and post it the same way? Unfortunately, the system won't let you post more from a website until you have 10 rep, which you almost do, so don't give up. Where do you live? Does the rest of the plant look more like a bush or a tree? How big is it? If you can think of anything else, let us know. Thanks! Aug 28 '15 at 3:09
  • Hi @Sue! Just tested the link and it worked fine for me... :/ It looks kind of like small to tall bushes, they can be tiny or higher than an adult person, they are green and yellow like the plant, I live in Berkeley California. Vote the question up or fave it and I might get the needed points to add the photos directly here! Thanks Aug 28 '15 at 7:49
  • @fabriced Users with less than 10 rep are limited to two links in each post, and an embedded photograph counts as a link. You've got more than 10 rep now so you should be able to add as many photos as you want. Welcome to the site!
    – Niall C.
    Aug 28 '15 at 15:44

I checked out the pictures, but frankly, they're not much use - they're blurry and only show the flowering tops of the plant. What we need to see are the leaves/stems/foliage, and a clear, focused shot would be good.

However, the likelihood is that the plant is Foeniculum vulgare - good photos will confirm for sure, or you can examine what you see in the links below



Note there is a difference between Florence Fennel and ordinary fennel or Foeniculum vulgare (link below showing Florence Fennel); the former is classed as a vegetable, the latter as a herb. I use the leaves from the herb version in potato or mayonnaise based salads and its very good with fish. You can use the leaves of Florence fennel in a similar fashion, but ordinary fennel does not develop the swollen bulb at the bottom - it just has a rather long tap root or two.



The specimens in your new photos don't show much foliage, so its hard to be absolutely definite that they are Fennel - I suspect they are, and they do grow wild where you live (see link below) but I wouldn't want you to poison yourself eating some lookalike plant. In the link below, you can purchase a small book for wild growing local edibles, and that might be of interest, otherwise, suggest you go and buy yourself a Fennel plant and grow it in your own garden, just to be completely safe. If you just want to use the leaves and not the root, Foeniculum vulgare (or common Fennel) is the one to look for - there is a bronze form, which has brownish leaves, an attractive, feathery looking plant in its own right in the garden. Ensure you get the right planting spot - its next to impossible to move or remove because it has a long tap root, so you need to select the planting site carefully.


  • WAY cool...gees, newbies should be allotted an awful lot of pictures. I had no idea this was getting in the way! OK...Bamboo, you are so good at this...duh!!
    – stormy
    Aug 29 '15 at 0:53
  • @stormy - erm, not sure what you mean by good, you probably know everything I know. Must be all those years pre-horticultural training when I had to write comprehensive, detailed and clear reports in an architect's office which means I can string threads of information together easily...
    – Bamboo
    Aug 29 '15 at 10:22
  • You have a brilliant mind, Bamboo!! I appreciate how you see and understand this world.
    – stormy
    Aug 29 '15 at 19:56
  • Thanks for your comments guys! I'll definitely try to get better pictures when I get a chance, some of these were taken from a video which explains their bluriness... as soon as I can Aug 29 '15 at 20:22
  • @Bamboo added more pictures! Sorry for the delay. have a good day Oct 3 '15 at 21:05

I went out with a friend on Friday and harvested the seed pods from that plant to make anisette. We went near the mouth of Topanga Canyon up the coast from LA. The seed heads have a licorice taste. My friend refers to the plants as fennel. I am trying to find how to differentiate fennel from anise. Apparently, they are in the same family related to carrots. After washing it well, I cut the seed head clusters off just above where they gather into the main stem, muddled the seed heads with a wooden spoon in a mason jar and then added Everclear (151 proof grain alcohol) at about a fifth to 4 oz. of seed heads. I did that last night and will let it sit for a few weeks. Already overnight I am getting a blue-green hue to the alcohol. I will filter it through large coffee filters and add a simple syrup to taste (generally find that's around 50-50). Tasty libation. Fritz


This is most certainly Fennel, especially if you live in Berkeley.

It is a MAJOR invasive plant, almost anywhere, except the Mediterranean from where it comes. Be very careful and avoid trying to "grow" this. In California, this thing is now showing up in our national forests and parks, apart from taking over a lot of the lesser maintained trails, parks etc.

Yes, it does help the Aniseed Swallowtail and some others and also has some uses for us, but is a major impedance for other plants. Almost nothing will kill this thing completely once established.

Here is CAL-IPC with much needed detail. Also, tell your friends and everyone you can:


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.