The herb, fennel, as opposed to the similar Florence fennel used as a vegetable, is a tall-stemmed herbaceous perennial with fine, feathery leaves and yellow flowers. It is related to the carrot and parsley.
The leaves and seed bodies have a sweet, aniseed flavour and are used in salads, meat and fish dishes. It looks very similar to the herb, dill, but has a much stronger flavour. Like its close relatives, fennel is a Mediterranean plant that has become naturalised in other parts of the world with similar climates where it is regarded as a serious weed. It is deep-rooted and every part must be completely removed otherwise any remains will regrow.
How to grow
Fennel is easily grown as an annual from seeds in spring, sown directly in the ground or in trays in the greenhouse in cooler areas and planted out when established. As mentioned, it grows easily and roots can be divided and replanted in autumn.
Cut the leaves when still young, collect the seed heads as they ripen, dry and store them.
Fennel in flower