Foeniculum vulgare Mill.

Last updated: 5 Sep 2016

Scientific Name

Foeniculum vulgare Mill.


Anethum dulce DC., Anethum foeniculum L., Anethum minus Gouan, Anethum panmori Roxb., Anethum panmorium Roxb. ex Fleming, Anethum pannorium Roxb., Anethum piperitum Ucria [Illegitimate], Anethum rupestre Salisb., Foeniculum azoricum Mill., Foeniculum capillaceum Gilib. [Invalid], Foeniculum divaricatum Griseb., Foeniculum dulce Mill., Foeniculum foeniculum (L.) H.Karst. [Invalid], Foeniculum giganteum Lojac., Foeniculum officinale All., Foeniculum panmorium (Roxb.) DC., Foeniculum piperitum C.Presl, Foeniculum rigidum Brot. ex Steud., Foeniculum vulgare var. capillaceum Burnat, Foeniculum vulgare subsp. capillaceum (Burnat) Holmboe, Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce (Mill.) Batt. & Trab., Foeniculum vulgare var. inodorum Maire, Foeniculum vulgare subsp. piperitum (C.Presl) Bég., Foeniculum vulgare var. piperitum (C.Presl) Ball, Foeniculum vulgare var. sativum C.Presl, Foeniculum vulgare subsp. sativum (C.Presl) Janch. ex Holub, Ligusticum foeniculum (L.) Roth, Ligusticum foeniculum (L.) Crantz, Meum foeniculum (L.) Spreng., Meum piperitum Schult., Ozodia foeniculacea Wight & Arn., Selinum foeniculum E.H.L.Krause, Seseli dulce Koso-Pol., Seseli foeniculum Koso-Pol., Seseli piperitum Koso-Pol., Tenoria romana Schkuhr ex Spreng. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Adas pedas [2]; jintan manis, jira [3]
English Common fennel, fennel, Florence fennel, sweet fennel, wild fennel [3]
China Hsiao hui hsiang, hui xiang, shih lo, tzu mo lo, xiao hui xiang [3]
India Badi, badi-sopu, badishep, jangli badyan, madhurika, pan-muhori, perunsiragum, sabbasige, shombu, sohikire, sont, sopu [3]
Indonesia Adas, adas londo, hades [2]; adas landi, adas londa, adas pedas, adasa, adase, adeh manih, das padas, denggu-denggu, hades, paampas, paapang, papaato, parotomu, popaas, rempasu, wala wunga [3]
Thailand Thian-klaep, phakchi-duanha, yira [2]
Laos Phak s’i [2]
Nepal Sonf [3]
Vietnam Ti[eer]u h[oof]I, h[uw][ow]ng [2]
Philippines Anis, haras [2]
Japan Ui-kyô, uwiichô [3]
Tibet Zira dkarpo [3]
Saudi Arabia Besbas, besbasa, besbes [3]
France Fenouil, aneth doux [2]
Ecuador Anis, analdo, hinojo [3]
Mexico Beche gueza ote extilla, gueza rote xtilla, hinojo, peche queza tote castilla, queza tote castilla [3].

Geographical Distributions

Foeniculum vulgare most probably originated from southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It is cultivated throughout the world and has naturalized in many places. It is grown throughout South-East Asia and is subspontaneous on several mountains in East Java; for example, it is common on Mt. Tengger. [2]

Botanical Description

F. vulgare is a member of the family Apiaceae. It is a robust, glabarous perennial that can grow up to 2m tall. [2]

The stem erect, terete, longitudinally striate, profusely branched at all heights, internodes hollow when older. [2]

The leaves alternate, decompound, sheathed, lower leaves largest; leaf sheath forming an open cylinder, at base embracing the stem, 2-15 cm long, margins white scarious, sheath. [2]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

F. vulgare has been reported to contain trans-anethole, estragole, D-limonene and P-anisaldehyde from steam distillation of commercial essential oil [4]. The chemical composition of F. vulgare volatile oil include: ethanol, acetic acid-ethyl ester, 3-methylbutanal, 2-methylbutanal, α-thujene, α-pinene, camphene, sabinene, β-pinene, myrcene, δ-3-carene, α-terpinene, p-cymene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, trans-beta-ocimene, γ-terpinene, fenchone, linalool, camphor, β-terpineol, terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol, methyl chavicol, fenchyl acetate, cuminal, cis-anethole, p-anisaldehyde, trans-anethole, thymol, α-copaene, β-caryophyllene, α-humulene, δ-cadinene. Chemical composition of acetone extact of F. vulgare are 4-hydroxy-4-methyl-2-pentanone, undecane, cis-anethole, trans-anethole, palmitic acid, methyl oleate, linoleic acid, oleic acid, stigmast-5-en-3-ol [5].

Plant Part Used

Seeds, root, leaf and oil. [6]

Traditional Use

F. vulgare fruits are known to be a refrigerant, an expectorant, a carminative, a digestive, a cardiac stimulant, a galactagogue, an antipyretic, an aphrodisiac and a tonic. It is also an alexipharmic, an ophthalmic, a stomachic, a haematinic, an antiemetic, an anthelmintic, a diuretic and a sudorific. The fruit is used to treat conditions like hyperdipsia, burning sensation, fever, coughs, anorexia, flatulence, colic, hernia, dysentery, haemorrhoids, vomiting, cardiac diseases, agalactia, strangury, dysuria, splenopathy, nephropathy, headaches, inflammations, skin disorders and general debility. This plant is applied in the form of paste on the abdomen after confinement and to relieve abdominal pains and rheumatism. [6]

F. vulgare seeds are helpful in treating tumours of the uvula, condylomata, indigestion, colic and for increasing lactation. Meanwhile, the root is used in the form of syrup to alleviate indurations of the spleen and liver, and as tincture for treating cramp, diarrhoea, gastralgia and urinary disorders. It is added to gripe water for babies and to laxative preparations to prevent griping. [6]

Chewing the seeds is a remedy for bad breath and is also used externally as a mouthwash or a gargle to heal gum diseases and sore throats. Topically, fennel powder is used as a poultice for snake bites. Since fennel also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, it is frequently used in natural toothpaste products. [7][8]

In other manufacturing processes, F. vulgare oil is used as a flavouring agent in certain laxatives and as a component in soaps and cosmetics. [8][9]

In foods and beverages, F. vulgare oil as a flavoring agent. [8][9]

The essential oil obtained from the seed is used in aromatherapy and has bactericidal, carminative and stimulant effects. [10]

The seeds, roots and leaves are recommended in teas and broth to treat obesity. The leaves are believed to act as a diuretic. [6]

The dried plant is an insect repellent while the crushed leaves are effective for keeping dogs free of fleas. [10]

Preclinical Data


Larvacidal activity

In an investigation of plant oil-derived larvicides used for mosquito control of Aedes aegypti and Anopheles dirus, i.e. vectors of dengue and malaria, respectively, the essential oil of Foeniculum vulgare plant was among those selected. The volatile oil exerted significant larvacidal potential against A. aegypti with LC50; 49.32 and A. dirus with LC50: 35.27, after exposure for 24 h. [4]

Antifungal activity

Using inverted petriplate method, the volatile oil of the fruits of F.vulgare was found complete 100% antifungal against A. niger, A. flavus, F. graminearum and F. moniliforme at 6 µL dose. F. vulgare volatile oil, which is rich in trans-anethole, possesses good antifungal activity. [5]

Antioxidant activity

The acetone extract of the fruits of F. vulgare is rich in linoleic acid and can be used as natural antioxidant for increasing the shelf life of foodstuffs and protector for highly unsaturated linseed oil, replacing synthetic fungicides and antioxidants such as BHT and BHA, as well as for preventing cellular damage, the cause of aging and human diseases. [5]

The antioxidant activity evaluation of crude extracts of fennel fruit and foeniculoside X, cis-miyabeol C, trans-miyabenol C, sinapyl glucoside and syringin 4-O-β-glucoside shows that the pure compounds have a higher activity than the crude extracts. However, in general, these results do not reveal strong antioxidant activities of isolated F. vulgare components. [11]

Anti-inflammatory activity

The antiinflammatory activity of F. vulgare fruit methanolic extract was evaluated by three screening protocols widely used for testing the non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs; namely, carrageenan-induced paw edema, arachidonic acid-induced ear edema and formaldehyde-induced arthritis. For the acute inflammation, the extract at dose of 200 mg/kg caused a significant inhibition of paw edema as compared to the control group 3 h after carrageenan injection. The extract also inhibited the ear-edema induced by arachidonic acid in mice. The results seem to suggest that F. vulgare extract has a significant antiinflammatory activity. [12]

Anti-ulcerogenic and antioxidant activity

The antiulcerogenic and antioxidant effects of an aqueous extract of the aerial parts of F. vulgare plant on ethanol-induced gastric lesions in rats were examined. It was found that pre-treatment with the extract significantly reduced ethanol-induced gastric damage. Also, the same pre-treatment significantly reduced the malondialdehyde levels, while significantly increased reduced glutathione, nitrite, nitrate, ascorbic acid, retinol and β-carotene levels. These results show that the extract has an obvious gastroprotective effect and antioxidant properties. [9]

Insecticidal activity

In a laboratory study that assessed the potential of plant extracts as commercial insect control agents, a methanolic extract of F. vulgare fruit was examined against black carpet beetle larvae, Attagenus unicolor japonicus, a common destructive pest. The result shows that F. vulgare fruit extract gave 67% and 100% mortality at 5.2 mg/cm2 21 and 28 days after treatment, respectively. This proves that the plant has potential insecticidal activity as traditionally claimed and suitable for use in integrated pest management. [13]

Hepatoprotective activity

F. vulgare essential oil has shown a protective effect against the liver injury induced by CCl4 in rats. The study suggested the activity is due to the presence of d-limonene and β-myrcene which have been shown to have effects on liver. [14]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Antihirsutism activity

In a double-blind placebo controlled study to evaluate the clinical response of idiopathic hirsutism to F. vulgare extract cream on hair growth on 45 women patients, it apparently showed reduction in hair diametre and good patient satisfaction. However, a further larger randomised trials with a standardised Fennel extract is required before it can be accepted as a cosmeceutical. [15]


No documentation

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Foeniculum vulgare Mill. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Sept 5]. Available from:
  2. Purwaningsih, Harmida, Brink M. Foeniculum vulgare Miller In: de Guzman CC, Siemonsma JS, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 13: Spices. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 126-130.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 267-268.
  4. Pitasawat B, Champakaew D, Choochote W, et. al. Aromatic plant-derived essential oil: An alternative larvacide for mosquito control. Fitoterapia. 2007;78(3):205-210.
  5. Singh G, Maurya S, De Lampasona MP, Catalan C. Chemical constituents, antifungal and antioxidative potential of Foeniculum vulgare volatile oil and its acetone extract. Food control. 2006;17(9):745-752.
  6. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 358.
  7. Wilkinson J. Medicines. London: The Reader’s Digest Association Limited, 2003; p. 43.
  8. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Fennel. [homepage on the Internet]. c1995-2016. [cited on 2016 Sept 6]. Available from:
  9. Birdane FM, Cemek M, Birdane YO, Gülcin I, Büyükokuroğlu ME. Beneficial effects of Foeniculum vulgare on ethanol-induced acute gastric mucosal injury in rats. World J Gastroenterol. 2007;13(4):607-611.
  10. Plant for a Future. Foeniculum vulgare – Mill. [homepage on the Internet]. c1996-2012. [cited on 2016 Sept 6]. Available from:
  11. De Marino S, Gala F, Borbone N, et. al. Phenolic glycosides from Foeniculum vulgare fruit and evaluation of antioxidative activity. Phytochemistry. 2007;68(13):1805-1812.
  12. Choi EM, Hwang JK. Antiinflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant activities of the fruit of Foeniculum vulgare. Fitoterapia. 2004;75(6):557-565.
  13. Han MK, Kim SI, Ahn YJ. Insecticidal and antifeedant activities of medicinal extracts against Attagenus unicolor japonicus (Coleoptera: Dermestidae). J Stored Products Res. 2006;42(1):15-22.
  14. Ozbek H, Uğras S, Dülger H, et. al. Hepatoprotective effect of Foeniculum vulgare essential oil. Fitoterapia. 2003;74(3):317-319.
  15. Javidnia, Dastgheib L, Mohammadi Samani S, Nasiri A. Antihirsutism activity of Fennel (fruits of Foeniculum vulgare) extract. A double-blind placebo controlled study. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(6-7):455-458.