How To Harvest Common Fennel


Common fennel, or Foeniculum vulgare, also known as sweet fennel, belongs to the parsley family. Widely grown as an ornamental perennial due to its soft, feathery foliage that often towers 6 feet or more in height, common fennel produces long stems that offer excellent, crunchy flavor when consumed raw. The seeds of the plant can flavor a wide variety of culinary dishes, desserts, candies and pastries, according to Floridata. The leaves make attractive garnishments and can be added to salads. Common fennel grows well, produces thousands of seeds and can easily escape cultivation with its invasive tendencies.

Step 1

Cut small quantities of the common fennel leaves and stems when the plant reaches 6 inches in height. Use pruning shears to clip away the leaf. Remove only the top 2 inches of the leaf when harvesting.

Step 2

Harvest the umbels of the fennel plant when they begin to dry and change color. The umbels usually begin to dry in late August. The fruiting umbels quickly turn tan. Promptly clip the umbels before the seeds are spread.

Step 3

Place the cut seed umbels into a paper bag so the seed dispersal occurs in a contained environment. The seeds will fall to the bottom of the bag within a few days of clipping the umbels.

Step 4

Store the seeds in a glass jar in a dark location for six months before consuming. Allowing the seeds to continue drying out in a jar for an extended time period will increase their liquorish flavor.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Paper bags
  • Glass jar


  • Harvest to Table: How To Grow Common or Sweet Fennel
  • Floridata: Foeniculum vulgare
  • Washington State University: Fennel, Sweet Anise
  • Backyard Gardener: Fennel, the Organic Gardener's Best Friend
  • WTV Zone: Fennel

Who Can Help

  • Washington State University: Common Fennel
Keywords: harvesting common fennel, gathering fennel seeds, clipping fennel leaves, using fennel

About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.