COMMON NAMES: Fennel
FAMILY: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
TYPE: Annual or very tender perennial
LOCATION: Full sun to part shade.
PLANTING: Transplants or seed in spring or fall.
HEIGHT: 3 to 6 feet
SPREAD: 24 inches
FINAL SPACING: 18 to 24 inches
BLOOM/FRUIT: Yellow umbels of flowers followed by aromatic seeds.
GROWTH HABITS/CULTURE: Looks like bright green or bronze dill, finely-cut feathery foliage, hollow stems, subtle anise or licorice scent, golden seed-heads or umbels, taller growing than dill. Sweet fennel has green foliage. Roman fennel has bronze foliage. Easy to grow in healthy soil.
PROBLEMS: Swallowtail butterflies - just plant enough fennel for them and you. If there are too many caterpillars on your plants, hand pick some of them off.
HARVEST/STORAGE: Harvest mature seeds and store in dry glass container. Collect and use the leaves before the plant flowers.
CULINARY USES: Fennel is used in liqueurs, chicken broth, and salads. Excellent for flavoring fish. Stalks are edible when young. Use the fresh foliage in salads and the dry seeds in breads.
MEDICINAL USES: The seeds are used as an appetite suppressant, a carminative stimulant, and to reduce the craving for alcohol. Eat or make tea from crushed seed. Seed are sometimes chewed to sweeten the breath.
LANDSCAPE USES: Good decorative landscape plant. Bronze fennel is the most attractive for landscape use.
OTHER USES: Good bee and butterfly plant.
INSIGHT: One of the easiest herbs to grow.
Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum is Florence fennel, commonly grown as a vegetable. It has a milder flavor. Used primarily for its fleshy stems. Let the kids see the metamorphosis of the striped caterpillars changing into the pupal cases and then emerging as the gorgeous swallowtail butterflies.
Home Remedies using Fennel
Fennel has antispasmodic, analgesic, diuretic properties. It is used to , stimulate the appetite, ease indigestion, soothe coughing and reduce intestinal spasms. This a useful herb for to promoting secretion of breast milk in nursing mothers, and when taken by the mother the volatile oils will pass to the baby to soothe digestive troubles. The seeds have also been used to regulate the menstrual cycle and relieve PMS.
The diuretic properties of fennel help to relieve fluid retention and combined with the action of the antiseptic volatile oils, it can be used to treat urinary infections.
By aiding elimination of toxins from the system through the urine, it makes a useful remedy for arthritis and gout. It is commonly used to treat asthma, bronchitis, colic, crohn's disease, food poisoning and motion sickness.
The seeds are used as essential oil or in teas and infusions.