Foeniculum vulgare, or more commonly known as fennel, is a perennial herb within the celery family Umbelliferae. It is actually the only species within the genus Foeniculum. The word fennel comes from the Middle English word “fenyl” or “fenel.” This Middle English actually came from the Old English word “finol.” Finol in turn came from the Latin “ferula,” meaning hay. Fennel is native to the Mediterranean area, but can now be found in many different parts of the world. This herb has been in use since ancient times, ancient Romans and Greeks used fennel for its culinary and medicinal purposes. Ancient Greeks actually associated fennel with Dionysus, the god of wine and food. Did you know that ancient Greeks believed that a stalk of fennel carried a coal that brought the knowledge of the gods down to men?
This perennial plant starts as a ball shaped similar to an onion. It is either pale green in color or white and has stout, hollow stems growing out of it. The stems can grow up to 4 or 5 feet in height, and are cylindrical in shape. There are leaves that grow off of the plant, growing to lengths of 15 inches. The leaves are finely segmented on the plant. Its flowers are golden in color and grow in large clusters, usually about 15 to 20 flowers in one cluster. These clusters can grow anywhere from 1 to 5 inches wide.
Fennel can be used in many different products and industries. Its most common use is for culinary purposes, however it can also be for medicinal purposes, skin care, hair care, soap making, and as a natural decoration for candle making. Common products that can include fennel are scrubs, perfumes, lotions, facial masks, body powders, and even natural herbal waters. Because of its wonderful aroma, fennel can also be used in potpourri and eye pillow recipes. Did you know that during ancient times, fennel was awarded to Pheidippides, the man who brought the news of the Persian invasion to Sparta?
Like any plant, fennel has its own specific conditions needed in which to grow properly. Fennel prefers rich, well drained soils. Deep and rich soil will help the plant to produce the best foliage. It also needs to be in an area with full sun exposure, however it can tolerate growing in areas with only partial exposure. Fennel does best in mild climates and is drought tolerant. Fennel is found in many different parts of the world, especially on riverbanks and near the sea coast.
It generally takes fennel a little more than three months to reach its full maturity. Fennel seeds should be planted about a foot apart from each other to allow for proper growth after the last frost. Fennel will usually start to germinate about one to two weeks after being planted and will be fully grown around late August time. The ball of the plant actually grows above ground. When the ball or bulb, begins to develop, the soil should be hilled up around it. This keeps the bulb from being turned green by the sun. When the bulb turns green, it is called “bleaching.” Avoid bleaching so that your fennel will have a better, sweeter taste.
There are not very many pests or diseases that affect fennel. Small whiteflies and aphids can sometimes be found on the leaves, but they generally do not cause the plant any problems. However, fennel can be susceptible to root rot when not planted in well draining soils. The root rot will occur when the soil does not drain and the roots sit in water for too long.
Uses in Industries
The most well known use for fennel is for culinary purposes. The whole plant, bulb, stalks, and even the leaves can all be eaten raw. Fennel has a sweet- licorice like taste to it. Fennel can be served with salmon and scallops to bring them an excellent taste. It can also be chopped and used as an ingredient in salads, as well as being sliced to use in sandwiches, or cooked and served as a side dish. In Lebanon and Syria, fennel is used with flour and onions to create a special omelet called “ijjeh.” There is an herbal tea that can be made from fennel, and in Spain, fennel seeds are used in the process of making pickled eggplant. Fennel seeds are also the primary flavoring agent for Italian sausage. Even tens of thousands of years ago, the cave dwellers of northern Italy and southern France actually used fennel to flavor their foods.
Bath and Body Products
Fennel can be used for many different industries and products. Besides its various culinary uses, it can also be used for soapmaking, skin care, bath and body products, hair care, and medicinal purposes. When used for soap making, fennel helps to exfoliate the skin and also is used as a natural decorative element.
Common bath and body products that can include fennel are facial masks, scrubs, eye pillows, lotions, body powders, and perfumes.
There are many amazing skin care benefits to using fennel. Fennel helps to exfoliate, tone, and cleanse the skin, relieves mild skin irritations, and helps pores to open and be able to release any impurities. Fennel helps to prevent cell damage and acne, soothes inflammation, helps the skin to look younger and healthier, and fights the signs of aging.
For hair care, fennel helps to prevent the hairs from breaking and treats dandruff. Fennel is also used to treat itchy scalp and any bumps on the scalp.
There are many amazing medicinal benefits to fennel. Fennel contains many important vitamins and nutrients such as zinc, calcium, selenium, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, many amino acids, and vitamins A, C, and E. When used in a poultice, fennel can work to treat snake bites.
This herb can help to protect the heart. Fennel helps to maintain blood pressure and heart rate, as well as working to decrease cholesterol reabsorption into the arteries. Decreasing the cholesterol reabsorption will help to protect and prevent from heart diseases.
Ancient Romans actually thought of fennel as the herb of sight. Fennel can help to protect from and treat glaucoma, and fennel root extract used to be used in tonics to help clear cloudy eyes. It also protects the eyes from inflammation and fatigue, and reduce irritation and disorders like macular degeneration.
For women, fennel helps to reduce the effects of PMS, as well as easing the pain of and regulating menstrual cycles. It works as a relaxing agent and pain reliever for menopausal women. For breast feeding mothers, fennel can help to increase the milk production. Fennel also contains flavonoids which can help to increase the size of a woman’s breasts. The flavonoids increase the forming of new tissues and cells in the breasts. This herb can even help to increase a woman’s sex drive, and reduce the pain of labor for pregnant women.
Fennel can even help to increase oxygen flow to the brain by working as a vasodilator. This helps the brain to perform at a higher capacity.
There is a high concentration of phenols, alkaloids, and flavonoids in fennel, and each of these help to protect from and fight cancer. Fennel can help to protect from the harmful effects of radiation during cancer treatments, and fennel extract can help to protect from liver and breast cancer.
There are many other conditions that can be treated with fennel as well such as colic, diarrhea, backaches, coughing, bronchitis, bloating, flatulence, loss of appetite, cholera, upper respiratory tract infections, and even bed wetting.
Fennel is actually one of the plants that are disliked by fleas. It is used in stables and kennels to help keep the fleas away.
It is said that fennel will bring a person courage and strength.
Nature’s Garden sells fennel seeds and sweet fennel essential oil for external use only. We do not sell it as a food item. The information above talks about how great fennel is for many industries, however we only sell it for external use. We provide this data for educational purposes only. Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using this product or any of this information for treatment purposes.
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