I'm curious what plant this is! I found it at 37°52'23.2"N 122°16'55.3"W (north of Oakland, California, USA).

mystery plant

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    $\begingroup$ it looks like a mustard of some sort? not my forte... $\endgroup$ – shigeta Jul 18 '15 at 3:18
  • $\begingroup$ Strongly seems a member of umbelliferae (apiaceae) $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Aug 28 '16 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ except yellow colour I didn't look it like mustard. Mustard family shows clear-cut racemose inflorescence but this one is umbel cymose $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 10 '16 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ i have at my back yard ,i do not now the name .we have it in Eritrea we call it Chilan smell's good .we use it for holiday decoration. $\endgroup$ – tekeste Ghebreslasie May 6 '17 at 19:36

It looks a lot like Queen Anne's Lace, but yellow and with more slender leaves. I believe it's Sweet Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). It's in the Apiaceae family, which has a lot of edibles: carrots, parsley, fennel, anise, caraway, celery, chervil, cicely, cilantro, cumin, dill, parsnips and more. Black swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on this, so often you can find a really fine caterpillar on them; bees like the flowers as well.

Apiaceae has 3,700 species spread across 434 genera; it is the 16th-largest family of flowering plants. It has a few poisonous plants, like water hemlock (white flower) and poison hemlock (also white). Wild parsnip has a very similar yellow flower but it's sap is wildly irritating in the medical sense (it will cause pain and blisters); its leaves are very different.

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If you crush some of the slender leaves between your fingers, it should smell like fennel (a common spice, e.g. in Italian sausage), or if you aren't familiar with that, a bit licorice-like.

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Sweet fennel (left, up to 6 feet tall) Wild Parsnip (right, 3-5 feet tall)

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    $\begingroup$ It does taste like licorice! $\endgroup$ – amara Jul 18 '15 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @naiad don't be so overconfident because many plants of umbelliferae looks very similar (so difficult to identify), as well there are highly toxic members. Yes the plants of umbelliferae contains a lot of volatile oils, so have good smell and flavor. Many member from this family used as spices and condiments ('hot-spices'). $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 10 '16 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ @AlwaysConfused if I used this procedure, would I be safe? waiting an hour between each step of (1) lick (2) chew small piece, spit out (3) eat small piece (4) eat large piece. and, like, not continuing if it tastes unpleasant $\endgroup$ – amara Sep 10 '16 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ @naiad I don't know. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 11 '16 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ For your kind information, poison-hemlock, that was given to Socrates, belong to this-family. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conium_maculatum $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 11 '16 at 3:53

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