A relative of the bulbous fennel used as a vegetable, fennel herb is a tall, hardy perennial that is used mostly for its seeds. Fennel, like parsley, is a member of the carrot family.
Fennel is native to the Mediterranean and is one of the oldest cultivated plants. Romans ate fennel as a vegetable and it has been used medicinally all over Asia.
Fennel plants grow easily in many conditions. It is a perennial and will self seed. It can also cross pollinate with dill, so seed collectors should plant them far apart. Fennel is a perennial, but will grow best if replaced every 3-4 years.
Fennel can be used whole or ground, raw or toasted. The anise flavor seed is good in hardy dished of meat, legumes and starches. It pairs well with seafood and adds warmth to tomatoes and cucumbers. It is one of the ingredients in Chinese Five Spice Powder.