Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In Bloom in the Garden ~ Fennel

Fennel, a tall, perennial herb is in bloom. Reaching five feet, this plant provides contrasting height to the herb garden while the foliage offers a tasty addition to fish dishes. Simply lay the fresh fennel on the fish and bake, broil, grill, fry as you like.

The feathery foliage also conditions nicely to be added to fragrant herbal bouquets. After it is done flowering, it will set its seeds. Fennel foliage and especially the seeds have an anise or black licorice flavor. Fennel is one of the "meeting seeds" of olden days, when a colonial lady attending an all-day prayer meeting would carry a little packet for nibbling during the endless sermons because Fennel both tastes good and also chases away hunger pangs. In tea, the anise flavor lends a natural sweetness to the brew. In addition, it is said that a cup of fennel tea will help to quiet colicky babies and will also help to bring in a nursing mother's milk.

Fennel is also a host plant for the Swallowtail caterpillars. This dark fennel plant is the bronze fennel variety and the caterpillars are not as camouflaged as they are on the green branches of the common fennel, Foeniculum vulgare.

1 comment:

La Tea Dah said...

My fennel is blossoming now too and I am enjoying it so much.

Years ago (still at teen) I helped my mother make a large quantity of dill pickles. She gathered the supplies from her garden and those of friends. We waited eagerly for the dills to cure. My father is especially fond of dill pickles. It was a 'ta-dah' moment when we opened the first jar --- anticipating crisp, dill flavor with cucumbers. Hmmm, something was terribly wrong. Mom's friends garden was not filled with dill she was sharing, but fennel. We had licorice flavored dill pickles --- which were duly dumped, as they tasted awful!

Family history! I am sure mother 'smelled' the herb carefully before her next pickle experience (if she ever made them again --- we'd made a huge quantity).

:) LaTeaDah