Foeniculum vulgare, Fennel
Large flat umbels of small yellow flowers, followed by aromatic seeds. Soft green feathery foliage. Culinary; the flower, seed and leaf are edible. Use with fish, pork and all forms of salad.
• Hardiness: H5 (-10 to -15C)
• Type: Herbaceous Perennial
• Height: up to 2.1m
• Spread: 45cm
• Soil type: Light Loam
• pH: Neutral pH
• Habit: Upright
• Flowering colour: Yellow
• Flowering time: Summer
• Uses: Culinary & Medicinal (Read Jekka's Guide To Culinary Herbs and Jekka's Guide to Medicinal Herbs for more information)
• Attracts pollinators: Yes (Read Jekka's Guide to Pollinators for more information)
• Container suitability: Yes
• UK native: No
• Caution: The essential oil, when taken medicinally, can disturb the nervous system.
• Indoor Sowing: In spring, into prepared plug trays or pots, cover seeds with perlite. Bottom heat, 18°C, aids germination.
• Outdoor Sowing: In early summer, into a fertile, well-drained soil on a sunny site. Thin to 50cm apart.
• Propagation: Division
• Maintenance: (Read Jekka's Blogs on Early Spring, Late Spring and Autumn maintenance)
• Harvest: N/A
The high proportion of essential oils with muscle relaxing properties contained in fennel may explain why it has traditionally been used as a soothing and calming remedy for digestive problems characterised by painful bloating and colic. It is often seen as a tonic for stimulating appetite and reliving nausea, and used to soften the action of harsh laxative remedies.
Historically it has been used to relieve period pain, restore irregular periods and stimulate the production of breast milk in nursing mothers.
Used widely as an ingredient in gargles for sore throat and bad breath, it is also used to prepare eyewashes for tired and sore eyes.
Caution: Fennel seed contains a compound called estragole which may be toxic in high doses. Current guidelines recommend no more that two cups of tea containing fennel seed per day. The essential oil should not be used internally. The medicinal use of fennel should be avoided in pregnancy.
Please note: The information provided here is for educational interest only and is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat significant health problems. Any serious or long-term health concerns should always be discussed with a healthcare professional.
See our blog for more information about the National Institute of Medicinal Herbalists
Jekka's "How to Grow It" videos, includes Jekka's video on how to sow seeds for an informative step-by-step guide to seed sowing.
One of our three core roots is that we are Environmentally Conscious and for the past 30 years all the herbs grown at Jekka’s have been raised following sustainable, environmentally friendly and organic approaches resulting in a remarkable biodiversity at the herb farm.
Our herb seeds are also untreated and can be used to grow organic herb plants.