Traditional uses and benefits of Water Fennel

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Water fennel Quick Facts
Name: Water fennel
Scientific Name: Oenanthe aquatica
Origin Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It has escaped cultivation and naturalized in Ohio and Maryland.
Shapes Fruits are ovoid-cylindric 3–5.5 mm long with prominent ridges
Taste Sweet
Health benefits Support chronic pectoral affections, dyspepsia, intermittent fevers, obstinate ulcers, bronchitis and digestive disorders, fever, coughs, intestinal gas, and water retention
Oenanthe aquatica, commonly called Water fennel or fine-leaved water dropwort, is an aquatic flowering plant belonging to Apiaceae / Umbelliferae (Carrot family) making it a relative of the carrot, fennel, dill, anise, caraway, angelica, (its odor is similar to that of water fennel), cow parsley, celery and many other plants which have flower heads which are clusters or umbels of flowers, and have fine, feathery leaves. The plant is native to marshes, shallow ponds and seasonally flooded lowlands in Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It has escaped cultivation and naturalized in Ohio and Maryland. Some of the well-known common names of the plants are Fine leaf water dropwort, Fine-leaved water dropwort, Water fennel, Water hemlock and horse-bane.

Genus name comes from the Greek words oinos meaning wine and anthos meaning flower in reference to the wine-like aroma of the flowers. Specific epithet means growing in or near water. Common name is in reference to the finely-textured plant leaves, plant preference for watery growing areas, and physical resemblance of the plant to the dry grassland dropwort known as Filipendula. The leaves are poisonous to grazing cattle as it can cause paralysis, and it is said to contain myristicin which is supposedly a psychotropic substance. However the dried leaves lose this dangerous property. The oil from the fruit it produces only every alternate year contains phellandrine and is used for chronic chest infections such as bronchitis, lung problems, such as consumption, and asthma. This has expectorant properties so can clear phlegm and catarrh.

Water Fennel Facts

Name Water fennel
Scientific Name Oenanthe aquatica
Native Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It has escaped cultivation and naturalized in Ohio and Maryland
Common Names Fineleaf water dropwort, Fine-leaved water dropwort, Water fennel, Water hemlock, horse-bane
Name in Other Languages Albanian: Luledhri
Belarusian: Amiežnik vadziany (Амежнік вадзяны)
Bulgarian: vodno ĭonante (водно йонанте), sŭshtinski voden morach  (същински воден морач), obiknoven voden morach (обикновен воден морач)        
Croatian: Vodena trbulja             
Czech: Halucha vodní
Danish: Billebo-Klaseskærm, Vandfennikel, Billebo
Dutch:  Watertorkruid
English:  Fineleaf water dropwort, Fine-leaved water dropwort, Water fennel, Water hemlock, horse-bane
Estonian: Harilik vesiputk
Finnish:  Pahaputki, Liejupahaputki, liejupahaputki
French:  Ciguë aquatique,  Oenanthe safranée, Oenanthe aquatique, Phellandre, Oenanthe phellandre, Fenouil d’eau, fenouil aquatique
German:  Gemeiner Wasserfenchel, Gewöhnlicher Wasserfenchel, Großer Wasserrebendolde, Großer Wasserfenchel,  Rebendolde, Rosskümmel, Wasser-Pferdesaat, Wasserrebendolde, Pferdesaat Wasserfenchel, Wasserpferdesaat, butte Mäusezahl, Roßfenchel, Roßkerbel
Hungarian: Vízi borgyökér, Vízi mételykóró, mételykóró
Italian: Finocchio acquatico, Finocchio acquatico cicutario, Fellandrio
Irish: Táthabha bán, Greabhán mín, Nimh capaill
Latvian: Udens padille
Lithuanian: Vandeninė išnė       
Norwegian:  Hestekjørvel
Persian: آب‌چکان
Polish:  Kropidlo wodne
Portuguese: Felândrio, felândrio-aquático          
Romanian: Mararaș
Russian: Omezhnik vodyanoy (омежник водяной)
Serbian: vodena trbulja (водена трбуља), obična trbulja (обична трбуља), trbulja (трбуља)
Slovak: Halucha vodná, haluchovka vodná           
Slovene: Voidni sovec                                  
Spanish: Felandrio acuático, Milenrama de arroyos deshecha, Perejil de brujas
Swedish:  Stäkra, Vattenstäkra, Liejupahaputki
Turkish: Deniz rezenesi
Ukrainian: Omeh vodyanyy (омег водяний)
Welsh: Cegid Manddail y Dŵr, Cegiden y Dŵr, Cegiden-y-Dŵr Fanddail
Plant Growth Habit Fibrous-rooted, hairless, herbaceous, biennial to perennial aquatic flowering plant
Growing Climates Still and slow moving, stagnant water, sides of streams, margins of shallow pools, ponds, ditches, marshes, sheltered lakes, reservoirs, canals, streams and rivers, and seasonally flooded wetlands
Plant Size About 150 cm tall
Root Root is straight, vertical, spindle-shaped, hairy and white
Stem Stem is hollow and striated, normally about 1 cm in diameter but exceptionally reaching 8 cm,[2] erect or sprawling, rooting at the nodes of any submerged sections. Very large sprawling plants have been found to have stems up to 2 m long.
Leaf The upper (aerial) leaves are 2- to 3-pinnate, finely divided into lanceolate (sword-shaped) to ovate leaflets up to 5 mm long. The lower leaves are 3–4 pinnate, with very narrow (thread-like) leaflets under water, but flat, ovate leaf segments if emergent. The leaf stalks form a sheath around the stem at the base
Flowering season June to September
Flower Inflorescence arising from the leaf axils or at the tip of the stem. It consists of a compound umbel of 6–16 smaller rounded umbels about 1–2 cm in diameter, each of which has numerous white flowers. There are no bracts on the main umbel and 4–8 small, lanceolate bracteoles at the base of each of the secondary umbels. Plants are monoecious, with bisexual and male flowers in most umbels.
Fruit Shape & Size Ovoid-cylindric 3–5.5 mm long with prominent ridges
Propagation By seed
Taste Sweet
Plant Parts Used Fruit, seeds
Other Facts
  • Well-grown plants have been found to produce as many as 40,000 seeds.

Plant Description

Water fennel is a fibrous-rooted, hairless, herbaceous, biennial to perennial aquatic flowering plant that normally grows about 150 cm tall. The plant is found growing in still and slow moving, stagnant water, sides of streams, margins of shallow pools, ponds, ditches, marshes, sheltered lakes, reservoirs, canals, streams and rivers, and seasonally flooded wetlands. It occurs mostly in open, nutrient-rich habitats with a thick layer of organic mud, but it can also inhabit less nutrient-rich waters and sandy substrates or saline soils. It occurs mainly in periodically flooded habitats, as during flooding it is able to develop and thrive as a submerged growth form in deep water. In the Czech Republic it is mainly found in fishpond-rich areas and large river floodplains from the lowlands to middle elevations.

The species is commonly distributed all over Czechoslovakia, from lowlands to the sub-montane belt, particularly in fishpond and river basins. It shows no special relationship to the chemical and physical soil properties, and is well adapted to habitats with a changing water level. The reproduction of O. aquatica depends on emerging of the bottom. The most developed populations are formed by biennial plants and arise in the year following summer or autumn drainage.

Root and Stem

Root is straight, vertical, spindle-shaped, hairy and white. The stem is hollow and striated, normally about 1 cm in diameter but exceptionally reaching 8 cm, erect or sprawling, rooting at the nodes of any submerged sections. Very large sprawling plants have been found to have stems up to 2 m long.

Leaves

The upper (aerial) leaves are 2- to 3-pinnate, finely divided into lanceolate (sword-shaped) to ovate leaflets up to 5 mm long. The lower leaves are 3–4 pinnate, with very narrow (thread-like) leaflets under water, but flat, ovate leaf segments if emergent. The leaf stalks form a sheath around the stem at the base.

Flower

It flowers between June and September in northern Europe, the inflorescence arising from the leaf axils or at the tip of the stem. It consists of a compound umbel of 6–16 smaller rounded umbels about 1–2 cm in diameter, each of which has numerous white flowers. There are no bracts on the main umbel and 4–8 small, lanceolate bracteoles at the base of each of the secondary umbels. Plants are monoecious, with bisexual and male flowers in most umbels. Each flower has 5 sepals, 5 unequal petals with the outer ones slightly larger, 5 stamens and 2 styles. After flowering, the rays (stalks of the individual umbels) and pedicels (stalks to the individual flowers) do not thicken, and the umbels do not become flat-topped in fruit.

Fruit

Fertile flowers are followed by fruits that are 3–5.5 mm long, ovoid, with prominent ridges. On maturity, each fruit splits into two (1-seeded) mericarps. Normally fruit spreads by water or animals.

Traditional uses and benefits of Water fennel

  • The fruit is antiperiodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and pectoral.
  • Ethno-botanists used to treat various medical conditions, such as chronic pectoral affections, dyspepsia, intermittent fevers, obstinate ulcers etc.
  • Homeopathic remedy is made from the fruits.
  • Fruit of water fennel was used for bronchitis and digestive disorders.
  • In the past the herb was used for intermittent fevers, such as malaria, and as a diaphoretic to promote sweat and so lower the temperature of the body during a fever.
  • The roots were sometimes pulverized and used to treat piles but if the root is ingested by accident it could prove fatal.
  • It is recommended in the form of herbal tea for the treatment of chronic thoracic diseases.
  • Roots are used in the form of poultice which is applied externally to the skin against various skin diseases.
  • In homeopathy the fruit’s extract is used for the treatment of bronchitis and cough.
  • People take water fennel for coughs, intestinal gas, and water retention.

Dosing

The appropriate dose of water fennel depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for water fennel. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Precautions

  • All parts of the plant are poisonous.
  • This plant should be used with great caution, and only under the supervision of an experienced practitioner.
  • It is said to contain the alleged ‘psychotroph’ myristicine.
  • High doses may cause dizziness, nausea, intoxication, stomach irritation, failure of circulation, cerebral disturbance and other narcotic effects.
  • The fresh plant leaves are injurious to cattle.
  • The fruits are reputed to cause drunkenness and narcotic symptoms, and it can easily be confused with other, more deadly species such as hemlock water-dropwort.
  • The use of herb preparations is not recommended without seeking advice from your physician or pharmacist.
  • The substances they contain may interact with the subscribed drugs that the patient already takes, thus eliminating their therapeutic efficacy or inducing toxicity.
  • They may also burden further weakened vital functions of the body thus exposing the patient to increased morbidity and life threatened conditions.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=29564#null

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Oenanthe+aquatica

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=275996

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oenanthe_aquatica

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2391299

http://www.worldfloraonline.org/taxon/wfo-0000385414

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/OENAQ

http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/o/oenanthe-aquatica=water-dropwort.php

http://mediplantepirus.med.uoi.gr/pharmacology_en/plant_details.php?id=392

https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=OEAQ

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