Fennel

Fennel2

Fennel is a perennial herb, meaning that it grows year-round. It is erect, glaucous green, and grows to heights of up to 2.5 m, with hollow stems. The leaves grow up to 40 cm long; they are finely dissected, with the ultimate segments filiform, about 0.5 mm wide. Its leaves are similar to those of dill, but thinner. The flowers are produced in terminal compound umbels 5–15 cm wide, each umbel section having 20–50 tiny yellow flowers on short pedicels. The fruit is a dry seed from 4–10 mm long, half as wide or less, and grooved

How to use: Fennel is primarily used either for its "bulb," a tightly-grouped bunch of leaves (large shards are pulled off to be used in soups or salads), its fronds (sprinkled onto salads and entrees as an accent) and as an herb to flavor dishes in its seed form. It is also one of the primary ingredients in absinthe. Even the pollen from fennel's delicate yellow flowers are used in cooking, though they are quite expensive. It is often used as a breath freshener, and is said to have medicinal qualities, used for everything from preventing jaundice to aiding digestion (it can be used as a diuretic) to staunching coughs.