Foeniculum vulgare - Fennel

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Apiales - Family: Apiaceae

Fennel flowering on the roadside

Picture: Ryan Bushby/Wikipedia

This perennial or biennial plant, a member of the family Apiaceae (the umbellifers) grows mainly on dry or bare waste ground near the sea, where it is a conspicuous summer-blooming wildflower. The stalks are dry and grey-green, while the flowers are yellow and are borne in compound umbels that have no bracts.

Fennel can grow to a height of well over a metre and sometimes produces dense stands.

A closeup of fennel flowers

Giant Fennel, Ferula communis (above) is similar but can grow to well over two metres in height; it is found in woodlands and srubby grassland in the Mediterranean region and parts of and East Africa.

The feathery leaves are divided to very fine thread-like segments and smell rather like aniseed; they are used to flavour fish dishes, particularly in Scandinavia where the taste is very popular. The herb is always cooked with crayfish in readiness for the legendary crayfish parties held in the late summer there.

Volume 1

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