Fennel

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Foeniculum spp

 

History

The Fennels are believed to have originated from southern Europe with the name ‘Foeniculum’ being derived from the Latin ‘foenum’ meaning fragrant hay. It has been known and valued as a herb and vegetable for thousands of years. The seeds have a lovely anise flavour, and can be chewed. In parts of Central Hawke’s Bay such as around the Waipawa river some have become a bit of a weed, so please be aware they may have been sprayed if you are out foraging. See the vegetable section for more information about Florence Fennel (or Finnnochio ).

Growing

Like all  the other members in this family Fennel is best sown direct, They prefer full sun and free draining soils, they are fairly wind tolerant. Our Hot summers may cause them to bolt prematurely so light shade in the middle of summer will be of benefit if you are wanting to grow mainly for the leaves. Will self sow easily, and could become a weed.

Uses

Leaves and seeds are used in many Asian, and Mediterranean dishes. Seeds are often ground and added to Indian curries, and is used in the spice mix “Ras el hanout”. Leaves go well with egg dishes. Use carefully as they can over power a dish. Fennel is also useful to aid digestion. Chew the seeds or make a tea from the leaves.