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Is Dog Fennel Edible: Is It Poisonous? [Learn Surprising Truth]

Often confused with herb Fennel or Dill, many gardeners assume that Dog Fennel is edible, but is it?

Dog Fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), a weed plant, is not edible mainly because it contains harmful compounds like Alkaloids, Sesquiterpene lactones, and essential oils, leading to allergies and other negative symptoms.

Read on to learn if Dog Fennels benefit humans and pets and, if not, what to do with them. 

Is Dog Fennel the Same as the Fennel?

Many gardeners and householders often confuse Dog Fennel for the edible herb Fennel and sometimes Dill (another edible herb) because of its similar appearance and color.

However, Dog Fennel is not the same as either, nor is it edible.

Originally a North American herbaceous plant within the Asteraceae family, it has green leaves, feathers, and hairs, much like Dill or Fennel.

  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a herb from the Apiaceae family widely used for cooking. It is native to the Mediterranean region but is widely found worldwide today.
  • On the other hand, Dill (Anethum gravel eons) is an annual herbaceous plant from the Apiaceae family, native to Eastern Europe and Asia.

Both Fennel and Dill display green-colored feathery leaves, which resemble Dog Fennel; hence the confusion.

Dog Fennel vs other plants
Dog fennel, fennel, and dill may look similar, but they share slight dissimilarities in terms of appearance.

Another common mistake gardeners make between them is the yellow flowers’ appearance. Although they may look similar, each plant blooms with a slight variation in shape.

Here is a small table describing common differences between the three plants to help make a clear distinction.

Dog fennelFennelDill
It is inedibleIt is edibleIt is edible
It has feathery, fern-like leaves and produces small white or pale yellow flowersIt has aromatic, feathery leaves and produces umbels of yellow flowersIt has finely divided, feathery leaves and produces umbels of small yellow flowers
It has no culinary useIt is widely used in cooking, giving anise-like flavor to mealsBoth the leaves and seeds are used as culinary herbs for garnishing salads or to make pickles
The extracted essential oil has shown antifungal properties and insecticidal activity in the gardenIt has carminative properties, relieving indigestin, bloating, flatulence, etc.It aids with digestion, alleviate stomachaches, and offer diuretic effects

You may easily confuse Dog Fennel with Fennel herb from a distance because of their similar height and width. They can grow well over 6 feet and span wide, creating a dramatic backdrop in the garden.

Can Dog Fennel Be Eaten?

The short answer is no; Dog Fennel is not a common food source. 

Although no medical record exists for the effects of consuming Dog Fennel, it is often to avoid because of its harmful effects.

Dog Fennel is toxic and effectively serves as an insecticide and antifungal function. You can spray the extracted essential oil against insects and fungi.

Dog Fennel leaves repel mosquitoes, and juice from the plant and extracted plant sap may even treat bites of reptiles and insects.

One common reason gardeners avoid eating or touching Dog Fennel is the skin allergy that it can invite.

Dog fennels toxins
It contains an active compound, alkaloids, which can damage the liver in livestock and pets.

These naturally occurring organic compounds can be potentially harmful when consumed in high concentrations or certain forms.

Especially pyrrolizidine, an alkaloid toxin, can significantly affect nervous, cardiovascular, and other bodily functions, including allergies.

Dog Fennel is an invasive weed variety that spreads by wind-blown seeds and spreading rootstocks.

It is essential to prevent plants from flowering and uprooting the bushes and roots to prevent further spread.

From Editorial Team

A Few Things to Consider To Grow These Bushes Controllably!

Provide sandy, loamy soil and apply a rich organic fertilizer every two months. Additionally, prune the withered leaves once a month.

Aim to use filtered water when watering the Dog Fennel and plant in a garden with full sun.