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Eupatorium capillifolium

Eupatorium capillifolium (Lam.) Small

 

Dogfennel

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderAsteralesFlowering plants with a central disk flower and surrounding petals, like daisies
FamilyAsteraceaeThe aster family, which also includes daisies and sunflowers; from the Greek ἀστήρ, “star,” for the star-shaped flowers
GenusEupatoriumFrom Mithridates Eupator, King of Pontus, who found an antidote to poison in one of the species
SpeciescapillifoliumFrom the Latin capill, “hair,” and foli(um), “a leaf;” referring to the thin segments of the leaves

About plant names...

Dog fennel is a native of the eastern, especially south­eastern, United States. Like “real” fennel, dog fennel has feathery leaves, and crushed leaves smell strongly. It is found on roadsides, in flatwoods, marshes, and disturbed areas. Most consider it a weed.

Plants: 20-79" (50-200 cm) tall, erect, with several forked stems. Stems are round, light green or reddish to dark red or purple, and finely hairy. Stems are soft when young, becoming woody and tough later.

Leaves: Leaves are finely divided and needle-like. When crushed, they produce an unpleasant odor.

Flowers: A profusion of tiny, inconspicuous greenish-white flowers ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2-3 mm) long appear all over the upper segments of the plant. Flowers appear from June to November.

Fruits: Small achenes ~¹/₃₂" (1-1.5 mm) long.

Eupatorium capillifolium (Dogfennel)

A scarlet-bodied wasp moth nectaring on buttonbush. The moth eats dog fennel shortly before mating, using the plant’s toxins for the defense of himself and his mate.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones Dog fennel produces toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids to protect itself from insects. Though not intensely poisonous, forage animals can be sickened. Scarlet-bodied wasp moths eat dog fennel, absorbing these toxins and using them to protect their mates.

Online References:

Eupatorium capillifolium on www.alabamaplants.com

Eupatorium capillifolium on the University of Massachusetts Landscape, Nursery & Urban Forestry Program

Eupatorium capillifolium on Discover Life

Eupatorium capillifolium on scnps.org

Eupatorium capillifolium description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Jul 2017.

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Eupatorium capillifolium (Dogfennel)

8/31/2013 · Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA
≈ 7 × 10" (16 × 25 cm)

Eupatorium capillifolium (Dogfennel)

8/31/2013 · Riverside Park, James River, Midlothian, VA
≈ 10 × 15" (25 × 37 cm)

Eupatorium capillifolium (Dogfennel)

8/31/2013 · Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA
≈ 7 × 10" (16 × 25 cm)

Eupatorium capillifolium (Dogfennel)

8/31/2013 · Riverside Park, James River, Midlothian, VA
≈ 12 × 19" (31 × 47 cm)

Range: Zones 3-10:

About this map...