Distillation time modifies essential oil yield, composition, and antioxidant capacity of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill)

Valtcho D. Zheljazkov, Thomas Horgan, Tess Astatkie, Vicki Schlegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill) is an essential oil crop grown worldwide for production of essential oil, as medicinal or as culinary herb. The essential oil is extracted via steam distillation either from the whole aboveground biomass (herb) or from fennel fruits (seed). The hypothesis of this study was that distillation time (DT) can modify fennel oil yield, composition, and antioxidant capacity of the oil. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of eight DT (1.25, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160 min) on fennel herb essential oil. Fennel essential oil yield (content) reached a maximum of 0.68% at 160 min DT. The concentration of trans-anethole (32.6-59.4% range in the oil) was low at 1.25 min DT, and increased with an increase of the DT. Alpha-phelandrene (0.9-10.5% range) was the lowest at 1.25 min DT and higher at 10, 80, and 160 min DT. Alpha-pinene (7.1-12.4% range) and beta-pinene (0.95-1.64% range) were higher in the shortest DT and the lowest at 80 min DT. Myrcene (0.93-1.95% range), delta-3-carene (2.1-3.7% range), cis-ocimene (0-0.23% range), and gamma-terpinene (0.22-2.67% range) were the lowest at 1.25 min DT and the highest at 160 min DT. In contrast, the concentrations of paracymene (0.68-5.97% range), fenchone (9.8-22.7% range), camphor (0.21-0.51% range), and cis-anethole (0.14-4.66% range) were highest at shorter DT (1.25-5 min DT) and the lowest at the longer DT (80-160 min DT). Fennel oils from the 20 and 160 min DT had higher antioxidant capacity than the fennel oil obtained at 1.25 min DT. DT can be used to obtain fennel essential oil with differential composition. DT must be reported when reporting essential oil content and composition of fennel essential oil. The results from this study may be used to compare reports in which different DT to extract essential oil from fennel biomass were used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-672
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Oleo Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2013


  • Alpha-phellandrene
  • Alpha-pinene
  • Aromatic plants
  • Essential oil yield
  • Fenchone
  • Paracymene
  • Steam distillation
  • Trans-anethole

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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