What is fennel?

(Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel, photo: Tim RudmanGeneric Weed Distribution Map
  • Fennel is a significant weed of open, exposed sites like roadsides, railways, wastelands, channels and drains which receive abundant water or runoff. Fennel is also grown as a commercial crop in Tasmania.
  • Fennel is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of fennel are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify fennel

  • Fennel is a perennial (long-lived) herb with a stout branched taproot, jointed stems and feathery leaves that smell like aniseed. Fennel typically grows to between 1.5 to 2 metres high.
  • Flowering stems are produced from the centre of the plant each spring bearing an umbrella of small greenish yellow flowers. Aromatic seeds replace the small flowers at the ends of the flowering stems in summer and autumn.
  • For further help in identifying African boxthorn, search the Dennis Morris Weeds and Endemic Flora database for fennel illustrations. If you are still in doubt about the weed you are dealing with, contact your Regional Weed Management Officer on 1300 368 550 for help.

Fennel in Tasmania

  • Fennel is a common roadside weed in Tasmania, and is also found along creek lines and streams and in waste areas receiving moderate rainfall or run-off (see map). Significant infestations of fennel occur at Orielton Lagoon, around Glenorchy, and at Devonport.
  • Once well established fennel excludes most other plants, possibly due to the plant's unusual chemical properties.
  • Whilst fennel is a weed, the plant also has many useful attributes and has long been used as a vegetable and for its medicinal qualities. Trash resulting from harvesting of commercial crops is also used as garden mulch.

What is the legal status of fennel in your area?

Detailed management and control guidelines for fennel can be found in the Fennel Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Fennel Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Fennel Control Guide
Herbicides for Fennel Control
Statutory Management Plan for Fennel
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

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