Fennel, Sweet

'Sweet' Fennel blooms large umbels of yellow flowers most all summer long. Grows a thick, perennial stock with feathery leaves. Stout stems branch up 4 -5 feet in height. Prefers full sun, in a well drained, rich loamy garden soil. Plant along back wall of garden setting , while planting lower, mounding herbs like rosemary, oregano or thyme. Plant late April to mid June, look to harvest in July or September when bulbs are about tennis ball size.

The plant gives off a strong aroma of anise or licorice.' Sweet' Anise, cut into large pieces and thrown onto hot coals, adds aroma and flavor to grilled steaks, fish and poultry.

Fennel or Sweet Anise grows to be an entirely edible plant. Stalks, leaves and bulbs are usable. Sautee fennel with sliced onions for a side dish. Combine sliced sautéed fennel with mandarin oranges and avocado for a delicious salad. Fennel seeds, in India, are chewed as a breath freshener, mixed in curry blends and part of Chinese five spice.

'Sweet' Fennel is very common along the dry slopes and ridges throughout the California Floristic Province. A native of southern Europe that blooms from May to September and is a member of the carrot family. Fennel is an herb of ancient folk-lore, believed to encourage longevity, courage and strength.

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