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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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  • $\begingroup$ Strongly seems a member of umbelliferae (apiaceae) $\endgroup$ 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 $\endgroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ May 6 '17 at 19:36
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That's East Indian Fennel. It's a member of the celery family. Every part is edible, including the root and the seeds. It's packed with vitamins, calcium and is used to stop restless leg syndrome, among other ailments. The feathers (leafs) can be used to wrap meat and fish before baking or eaten fresh on a green salad. Once par boiled they lose their licorice taste and can be eaten like steamed spinach. The Italians brought it over in the early 1800s and it flourished. It grows along the freeways of California and other states. I pick large batches of it for my juice extractor and other things. Look up the many medicinal uses of fennel. The flowers look similar to dill.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE! It isn't clear that this adds anything to the existing answer that actually addresses the question. Please take the tour and then consult the help pages for additional advice on How to Answer effectively on this site. In particular, you are more likely to get a positive response to an answer if you explain why your identification is correct. Specifically, please edit your answer to add discussion of key features that led you to this conclusion and supporting references or at least validated images. Without this your answer is indistinguishable from opinion. Thank you! 😊 $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Jun 20 '20 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ How can you tell the difference between East Indian Fennel and wild fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)? Is there a difference? $\endgroup$ Jun 20 '20 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ i like it ----- $\endgroup$
    – amara
    Jun 21 '20 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ Fennel is native to Europe, so I'm not sure why you would claim this is "East Indian Fennel". If you have any evidence that this is not Foeniculum vulgare please edit your post to include that information. $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Jun 23 '20 at 18:14
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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.

enter image description here

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.

enter image description here enter image description here

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
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    $\begingroup$ @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'). $\endgroup$ 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
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    $\begingroup$ Since nothing has been happened I think you need-not to worry, but taste is usually (exceptions are there) not considered as a part of identification protocol. So may be this information possibly will not help in identification since most-other allied members too have pungent taste and strong aroma. $\endgroup$ Sep 11 '16 at 3:57
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    $\begingroup$ Poison hemlock has white flowers, is "leafier" (it's more commonly confused with parsley than with fennel), and doesn't smell or taste like licorice. I would absolutely bet my life on your picture being of fennel based on the flowers alone. :) Another differentiator is that you're more likely to find fennel growing in drier areas (it's pretty common on hillsides and roadsides in the Bay Area) whereas hemlock likes moister conditions (usually near a creek or at least a depression in the terrain -- it grows all over Glen Canyon Park for example). $\endgroup$
    – Samwise
    Jan 17 '18 at 23:40

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