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Lincoln Constance

Annual, biennial, perennial herb (rarely shrub, tree), often from taproot
Stem often ± scapose, generally ribbed, hollow
Leaves basal and generally some cauline, generally alternate; stipules generally 0; petiole base generally sheathing stem; blade generally much dissected, sometimes compound
Inflorescence: umbel or head, simple or compound, generally peduncled; bracts present (in involucres) or not; bractlets generally present (in involucels)
Flowers many, small, generally bisexual (or some staminate), generally radial (or outer bilateral); calyx 0 or lobes 5, small, atop ovary; petals 5, free, generally ovate or spoon-shaped, generally incurved at tips, generally ± ephemeral; stamens 5; pistil 1, ovary inferior, 2-chambered, generally with a ± conic, persistent projection or platform on top subtending 2 free styles
Fruit: 2 dry, 1-seeded halves that separate from each other but generally remain attached for some time to a central axis; ribs on each half 5, 2 marginal and 3 on back; oil tubes 1–several per interval between ribs
Genera in family: 300 genera, 3,000 species: ± worldwide, especially temp; many cultivated for food or spice (e.g., Carum, caraway; Daucus; Petroselinum); some highly toxic (e.g., Conium). Underground structures here called roots, but true nature remains problematic. Mature fruit generally critical in identification; shapes generally given in outline, followed by shape in X -section of 2 fruit halves together.


Species in genus: 1 sp
Etymology: (Latin: fennel)


F. vulgare Mill.


Perennial, taprooted, 0.9–2 m, glabrous, glaucous, anise- or licorice-scented
Stem erect, branched, solid
Leaf: petiole 7–14 cm, conspicuously sheathing; blade 3–4 dm wide, triangular-ovate, pinnately finely dissected, segments 4–40 mm, thread-like
Inflorescence: umbels compound, peduncled; bracts, bractlets 0; rays 15–40, unequal, 1–4 cm, spreading-ascending to ascending; pedicels 18–25, 1–10 mm, subequal
Flower: calyx lobes 0; petals wide, yellow, tips narrowed
Fruit 3.5–4 mm, oblong-ovate, compressed side-to-side, glabrous; ribs subequal, prominent, acute; oil tubes per rib-interval 1; fruit axis divided to base
Seed: face generally flat
Chromosomes: 2n=22
Ecology: Roadsides, waste places
Elevation: 0–350 m.
Bioregional distribution: California Floristic Province, White and Inyo Mountains
Distribution outside California: native to s Europe; widely escaped from cultivated in w hemisphere
Flowering time: May–Sep
Locally abundant and invasive.

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