(Foeniculum vulgare) is a plant of the Apiaceae or parsley family, which produces
edible seeds and leaves. The cultivar Florence
fennel has inflated leaf bases which form a sort of bulb. It comes mainly
from India and Egypt and it has an
anise-like flavor, but
is more aromatic and sweeter. Its flavor comes from anethole, an aromatic compound
that also flavors anise and star anise.
is a perennial herb, erect, glaucous, and grows
to 2 m tall. It is highly aromatic. The leaves grow up to 40 cm long; they are
finely dissected, with the ultimate segments filiform; umbels are terminal, 5-15
cm wide; umbellets with 20-50 tiny flowers, these are on filiform pedicels. The
fruit is from 4-9
mm long, half as wide or less, and grooved.
cultivar Florence fennel is much smaller than the wild type and has inflated
leaf bases which are eaten as a vegetable.
is native to southern Europe (especially by the Mediterranean) and southwestern
Asia. In Hawaii,
it is cultivated and naturalized along roadsides, in pastures, and other open
sites. It has been similarly widely introduced to the US and southern Canada. In Fiji, it is occasionally
cultivated near sea level, and sparingly naturalized in shady waste places. It
is propagated by seed.
is used traditionally as a leaf vegetable or herb in cooking, particularly with eggs and
fish. It is also used
as a diuretic
and to improve milk supply of breastfeeding mothers. Florence fennel, popular
in Italy and Germany, among other
countries, may be eaten as a salad (e.g. with chicory and avocado), blanched
and marinated, or cooked (e.g. as
Indian restaurants will
have a dish of fennel seed with small candies mixed therein near the entrance.
Some patrons of these establishments will eat a spoonful on their way out as a
digestive and to cleanse the palate.
is also used in some natural toothpastes.
Ancient Greek fennel was
called marathron. This is the origin of the placename Marathon (meaning place of fennel),
site of the Battle of Marathon
in 490 BC.