San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[BRCC San Diego Natural History Museum: Research Library]
Plants that Attract Butterflies, A Gallery of Paintings by Albert Valentien

Painting of Foeniculum vulgare, by Albert Valentien

Foeniculum vulgare (Sweet Fennel)
Painted by Albert Valentien
© San Diego Natural History Museum

Foeniculum vulgare

Sweet Fennel or Foeniculum vulgare is not a native plant in our area, but an invasive perennial herb, conspicuous along roadsides, vacant lots, streambeds, and wasteplaces in San Diego County. The plants, which are members of the carrot family or Apiaceae, grow up to 6 feet tall, and have a distinctive odor of anise or licorice. Native to Europe and the Mediterranean area, Sweet Fennel has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries and has become naturalized around the world. Foeniculum vulgare tolerates dry, sandy, acidic soils and because it reproduces both by seed and from the crown or root system, it is very successful at spreading. Because of its invasive nature, it is not a recommended species for planting in a butterfly garden.

The native plant which Anise Swallowtails use as a host plant is Tauschia arguta, also in the Apiaceae. Additional plants used by Anise Swallowtails include parsley, carrot, and other members of the same family.

Introduction to Valentien Collection
Gallery of Plants
Monarca: A Gallery of Butterfly Plants

Text by Margaret Dykens