- Botanical name : Foeniculum vulgare Miller
- Family name : Apiaceae
- Commercial part : Fruit
It is a biennial, aromatic, stout, glabrous, 1.5 to 1.8 mtr high. The ripe fruit (seed) is small, oblong, cylindrical, 6.8mm long, straight or slightly curved, greenish yellow, deeply furrowed, 5 ridged and having agreeable aroma.
Fennel yields both a herb and a spice. All plant parts are edible; roots, stalks and leaves, with the spice coming from the dried seeds. A native to the Mediterranean, Fennel is an ancient and common plant known to ancient Greeks and spread throughout Europe by Imperial Rome. It is also grown in India, the Orient, Australia, South America and has become naturalized in the US. It has been called “meeting seed” by the Puritans who would chew it during their long church Services.
As a herb, fennel leaves are used in French and Italian cuisine’s in sauces for fish and in mayonnaise. In Italy fennel is also used to season pork roasts and spicy sausages, especially the Florentine salami finocchiona. It is traditionally considered one of the best herbs for fish dishes. The English use fennel seeds in almost all fish dishes, especially as a court bouillon for poaching Fish and seafood. It is used to flavour breads, cakes and confectionary.
Fennel is a hardy perennial related to parsley, often cultivated as an annual, reaching height of 1.50-2.50 metres. It resembles dill, which it can cross pollinate with. It should be kept at a distance from dill because the resulting seed will have a dulled flavour. The flower heads are collected before the seeds ripen and theshed out when completely dried.
Fennel will grow in any soil, but richer the soil, the more tender the foliage, Seeds should be sown directly in the garden in the lates pring. Seedlings do not transplant well. The deep taproots are difficult to pull up, so remove unwanted seedlings while yong. The plant will self-sow generously. To maintain a continous supply of fresh leaves throughout the season, sow a few seeds every 10 Days. Fennel can be grown as an annual, although the established roots will overwinter easily.