Fennel, Bronze

A hardy perennial in zones 5-11, an annual in lower zones. Plant 'Bronze' fennel in full sun and in well drained rich-loamy garden soil. Cut back to the ground at the end of season after seeds have formed. 'Bronze' fennel has a long tap root, thus should not be disturbed or divided after planting. The center stalk bears the flowers, be careful not to cut until harvest time. Cut the whole head of the flower when seeds turn green to brown, store in a brown paper bag to ripen.

A host plant for the swallowtail caterpillar. Butterflies loves the scent of the blossoms. Bulbs give off an aromatic scent and known to flavor meats when tossed in with coals on the grill.

Ripened seeds of the 'Bronze' fennel blossoms are used in Italian sausage and turn an ordinary jar of tomato sauce into a zesty concoction. The bulbs of fennel are edible too. Cut raw and sliced in salads or seared in a wok along with other stir-fry vegetables. The bulbs stems are similar to celery. Some peal off outer branches and prefer the younger, more tender inside stalks.

'Bronze' or 'Sweet' Fennel is an herb grown for it's leaves and seeds. There is also a vegetable Fennel (Finocchio) grown for it's licorice flavored root.

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