Monday, August 27, 2007

Attack Dog ....fennel.

This is where I stopped mowing on the East side of the pond bank. (Is it still a pond if there's no
water in it?)

Dog Fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium) is a pretty common brushy weed in the east and especially in wet Florida. It's way too common for my taste. It loves my pond area and produces dense thickets that provide the deer with secret bed-down sites which is good, and according to the Florida extension service, it is actually a butterfly nectar plant ... something I never would have suspected.

I am not a big fan of it, as it fills in areas I'd rather keep grassy and it stinks. I know smell is in the nose of the besmeller, but I think dog fennel stinks.

But then I'm not crazy about real fennel either.

When the annual stem of the dog fennel dies, it becomes a dry, easily snapped off stick. As kids, we had many a sword fight and spear chucking battle with these. These days, I do battle with the dog fennel itself. When it's still only a few feet tall I mow it with the mowflex, a tiny push mower that we abuse here at PFHQ.

After it gets overhead like it is now, you have to wade in to it with a machete, swinging like you are Aragorn battling the Orc hordes. Of course if I had Rurality's DR Brushmower thingie, I'd really be able to whip some dog fennel butt. Then again, I might be tempted to do more than I should and then where would the mammals of mass destruction (deer) make their beds?


The important thing to remember when dealing with dog fennel is to keep your machete close and never, ever turn you back on it. It's bigger than you are (well, me anyway) and it's very, very sneaky.

The almost invisible blue arrow on the left is pointing to the dog fennel frontier where the pics above were taken. That whole bank was covered in young dog fennel (pup fennel?) earlier, but I mowed most of it while I could.

The grassy depression is my "pond" as long time readers know. If you hit the summer 2004 archives, you can see it nice and full during a wonderful summer of tropical storm after tropical storm. The pond is not currently bone dry. There is a puddle down in the green bottom that is about ten feet long and a foot deep.

I still have hopes for a refilled pond since the best part of hurricane season is still in front of us.


pablo said...

I'm with you on the dislike of fennel in general, but nature always wins, and I think the eradication effort will probably never be more than a holding action.

(Do shirts have sleeves in Florida?)

Thunder Dave said...

I think I've just seen a preview of what awaits me in November! ;-)

Looking at the tropical storm forcasts, chances might be good of your pond filling in this next month!

vicki said...

Just wait. There will be a big storm between Sept 12 and 15.

My experience with men and sharp instruments- machetes, hair clippers, loppers and pruning shears- has always been that they don't know when to stop. Then we got a little place in Florida...

Anonymous said...

Mammals of mass destruction? But they're so cute!

BTW, is dog fennel native?

Doug Taron said...

We have dog fennel up hee, but it doesn't seem to be aggressive in natural areas. It really likes disturbance and especially high-niotrogen areas like pastures. I'm just as glad not to have another weed to control

Wren Plants of the Chicago Region lists it as Eurasian. And (news to me) it isn't even a fennel- it's a composite.

threecollie said...

Poor pond..hope you get rain soon. I don't think we have dog fennel and I don't think we want it.

Anonymous said...

Just you wait FC....Thunder makes a mean steamed mussels with fennel so you might change your mind. This is a traditional dish for us served at Christmas!

Sharon said...

I don't mind the smell...reminds me of many summer nights out 4 wheelin', back when there were places to go around here...

Cathy S. said...

That stuff makes me sneeze! How can you stand to have it in your face like that?

SophieMae said...

As Roseanne Roseannadanna always said... It's always sumthin'

I try to tolerate the fennel for the sake of the critters. OK, truth be told, I kinda like it. But sooner or later, even I have to call a weed a weed and thin it out.

According to UF, it's native to FL, so it's a good thing, right? 8-]

Anonymous said...

the 'best' part of hurricane season ;)

life on the road said...

When I was teaching in South Georgia I would have my kids eat dog fennel on our forest hikes. I actually enjoy the taste of young, new shoots. It's sweet like a carrot and then the bitterness kicks in after you swallow.

Dog fennel was also one of my favorite plants to play with as a child. I would make many a fennel pie.

Floridacracker said...

I agree. UF says Dog Fennel is native, so I'm not an eradicator as much as a controller. Which, is really silly since winter always "controls" it right back to the ground.
It's the need to meddle.

I hate sleeves dude. If only they'd let me teach in muscle T's, shorts, and sneakers.

Just you wait.

You called that pretty good. That week is about as bad as Hurricane season gets.

UF says it is. So, I'm only allowed to dislike it not hate it :)

You've got me wondering about it's origins now.

I don't know if cows eat it, but if so, I bet it would flavor the milk.

NOooooooooo! I don't like either!

Isn't that funny. It does bring back summer memories to me too.

Cathy S,
I am totally nonallergyized. Nothing bugs me.

Oh, I loved Gilda.
Yes, if it's native we have to be kind to it.

True. I don't say that for effect either. I really mean it.
I love the big storms. I don't wish anyone harm, but it's no secret FL has hurricanes.
Anyone who's bothered by them should move north.
Bring em on ;)

It would never have occurred to me to EAT dog fennel. blechh!
Cool that you do tho.
Welcome to Pure Florida!

edifice rex said...

So that's what that stuff is! We have it too, although not as much it seems. I do not care for the smell, looks etc. of it either. BTW, I tried to answer your question of a week or so ago over on my blog. Not sure if I succeeded.

Floridacracker said...

I'll check your answer this evening.

Doug Taron said...

Is there a possibility that we are speaking of two different plants that go by the same common name? Our dog fennel is Anthemis cotula. Plants of the Chicago Region is a very reputable source for this sort of information, and clearly lists it as being introduced from Europe. Yet the sources that you and others have been citing to list it as a Florida native are also good sources. A conundrum.

Floridacracker said...

Could be.
I used the IFAS site based at UF.

Anonymous said...

UF? There's your problem.


I use it, too.

I do regular battle with the dog fennel, however, where there are areas I have allowed for succession, other plants have begun to crowd it out.

It does often get taller than I am, where I let it grow.

Now I have to taste some and see how it is...

Doug Taron said...

Yep, that's what the problem was. In Florida, dog fennel refers to Euphorbia capillifolium. It's not even in the same family as the plant that we northerners refer to as dog fennel. Yours is native, ours isn't. Curiously, neither is in the same family as true fennel.

Doug Taron said...

Oops, thats Eupatorium, not Euphorbia. The UF site has both names, so perhaps Thingfish's snarky comment has some merit. This means that both species of dog fennel are in the same plant family, but different genera.