Common name: Fennel
Latin name: Foeniculum vulgare
Uses: Aromatic, cosmetic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal.Fennel adds fragrance to creams, perfumes, soaps, liqueurs, and potpourris. An infusion of ground stems is used for cleansing and medicating the skin. The licorice-flavored plant is used in sauces, soups, stews, and salads and as garnish for fish. The stems can be eaten like celery, and the roots can be boiled as a vegetable. The seeds can be used whole or ground in desserts, breads, cakes, cookies, teas, and beverages. The plant is used to make bright yellow or gold dye. It also can be grown in large containers. Fennel is said to have some medicinal qualities.
History: Native to the Mediterranean area, fennel was considered a magical herb that could ward off evil. It is referenced in the myths and folklore of many countries. The name is derived from the Latin foenum meaning
Description: The plant's long, carrot-shaped root produces a round, finely grooved stem with bluish stripes. The dark green leaves are alternately branched from joints on the stem and dissected into numerous filiform segments. The small yellow flowers are on large compound umbels. The oblong fruit has prominent ribs.
Plant type: Perennial
Hardiness: Hardiness zone 6.
Height: 48 to 80 inches
Width: 36 inches
Soil: average, very well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5
Disease: None noted.
Cultivation: In late spring or early summer, sow seeds
directly into the garden in shallow drills about 6 to 12 inches apart. Thin
seedlings to 8 inches apart. Heavy clay soils will hinder seed growth. Keep beds
moist until the first few leaves appear; then do not overwater.
Companion planting: Do not plant fennel near coriander, caraway, or wormwood as they hinder each other
Flowering period: July to October
Garden notes: Our plants grew much taller than we expected and became top-heavy with flower set. Plants should be supported when the bright yellow flower heads form. The umbels of flowers resemble those of dill, except that they are larger. The leaf sheaths surrounding the base of the flower petioles and stems have a licorice flavor.