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Giant Fennel

Ferula communis

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
3 metres tall
Gardens, grassland, roadsides, walls, wasteland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Each plant has many clusters of flowers (umbels). Each umber contains numerous tiny yellow flowers. Pollinated by flies.
The fruit is very flattened and egg-shaped.
A clump-forming perennial plant with large, dark green, feathery, 4 to 6-pinnate leaves. Very thick, purple-tinted stalks.
Other Names:
Meeting Seed, Wild Giant Fennel.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Ferula communis, also known as giant fennel or wild giant fennel, is a perennial herb in the Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) family. It is native to the Mediterranean region and some parts of Central Asia, though it can also be found in other parts of the world as an introduced species.

F. communis is a large herbaceous perennial, growing up to 3-4 meters tall with a stout, hollow stem that can be up to 10 cm in diameter. The leaves are large, finely divided and fern-like, arranged in a basal rosette. The plant produces large, umbrella-shaped clusters of small, yellow flowers in the summer. The roots can be thick, woody and perennial while the leaves are deciduous.

Ferula communis was used in traditional medicine, both the root and gum resin (asafoetida) are used as a flavoring agent in the food industry and traditional medicine. The pungent-smelling gum resin is used as a condiment and flavoring agent in many dishes, particularly in Indian and Iranian cuisine.

The plant is also grown for ornamental purposes due to its large size, and feathery foliage. Giant fennel can become invasive, particularly in areas with Mediterranean climates. It can spread quickly and outcompete native vegetation, so it's best to grow in a controlled setting such as a garden. It's also best to deadhead the flowers in order to prevent seeding, and also propagated via root cuttings.


Giant Fennel, also known as Ferula communis, is a plant species that belongs to the family Apiaceae. It is native to the Mediterranean region, including North Africa, southern Europe, and western Asia. This plant is a fascinating specimen due to its size, unique appearance, and historical significance.

Appearance and Characteristics

Giant Fennel is a perennial herb that can grow up to 2-4 meters in height. Its stem is stout and hollow, with a diameter of up to 10 centimeters. The leaves are large and feathery, with a bluish-green color. The flowers are yellow and arranged in a large, umbrella-shaped inflorescence. The fruits are flat and oval, with a diameter of up to 2 centimeters. The plant's strong, pleasant aroma is reminiscent of fennel, although it is much stronger.

Historical Significance

Giant Fennel has a long history of use in medicine, food, and even as a tool. In ancient times, the plant was used by the Greeks as a source of food and medicine. The Greeks believed that the plant had magical properties and used it to ward off evil spirits. The Romans also used the plant for medicinal purposes, and it was thought to have diuretic, expectorant, and antispasmodic properties. In the Middle Ages, Giant Fennel was used as a natural remedy for snakebites and as a treatment for digestive problems.

Cultural Significance

In addition to its medicinal uses, Giant Fennel also has cultural significance. In Sardinia, the plant is used to make a traditional liqueur called "filu e ferru," which is made by fermenting the plant's stems and roots with sugar and water. The liqueur has a unique, bittersweet taste and is often served as a digestif.

In some cultures, Giant Fennel is also used as a tool. In Ethiopia, the dried stems of the plant are used to make "mesob," a traditional woven table used for serving food. The stems are split and woven into intricate patterns, creating a sturdy and beautiful piece of furniture.


Despite its cultural and historical significance, Giant Fennel is under threat due to habitat loss and overharvesting. In some regions, the plant is considered endangered. Efforts are being made to conserve the plant, including the establishment of protected areas and the promotion of sustainable harvesting practices.

Giant Fennel is a fascinating plant with a rich history and cultural significance. From its use in medicine and food to its role as a tool, the plant has played an important role in the lives of people throughout the Mediterranean region. As efforts to conserve the plant continue, it is hoped that future generations will be able to appreciate the unique beauty and utility of this remarkable species.

Ecological Significance

Giant Fennel is an important component of the Mediterranean ecosystem. The plant provides food and habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. In addition, the plant's large size and deep root system help to prevent soil erosion and conserve soil moisture.

Culinary Uses

Giant Fennel is not as commonly used in cooking as its smaller cousin, common fennel, but it is still sometimes used in traditional Mediterranean dishes. The young shoots and stems can be eaten raw or cooked, and the seeds can be used as a spice. The plant's strong flavor can be overpowering if used in large amounts, so it is typically used in small quantities.

Medicinal Uses

Giant Fennel has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant is thought to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-spasmodic properties. It has been used to treat a wide range of conditions, including respiratory problems, digestive issues, and skin conditions.

However, it is important to note that the use of Giant Fennel for medicinal purposes should only be done under the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner. The plant can be toxic if used in large quantities or inappropriately, and may interact with certain medications.

Giant Fennel is a fascinating plant with a long history of use in medicine, food, and culture. As efforts to conserve the plant continue, we may continue to uncover new uses and benefits of this remarkable species.

Industrial Uses

Giant Fennel has some industrial uses as well. The plant contains a resinous sap that can be extracted and used in the production of perfumes and cosmetics. The resin has a strong, musky odor that is prized in the perfume industry.

In addition, the plant's large stems have been used as a source of wood for construction and as a fuel source. The stem can also be used to make paper, although this use is not as common.


Giant Fennel has been a symbol of strength and resilience in some cultures. In ancient Greek mythology, the plant was associated with the god Prometheus, who was said to have used the plant's hollow stem to steal fire from the gods and give it to humans. In some cultures, the plant is also associated with protection and warding off evil spirits.

In conclusion, Giant Fennel is a versatile plant with a wide range of uses and cultural significance. While the plant is facing threats from habitat loss and overharvesting, efforts to conserve the plant are underway. As we continue to learn more about this remarkable species, we may discover even more uses and benefits of Giant Fennel.