Botanical Name: Feoniculum officinalis
Common Names: shatapushpa
What parts of fennel herb are used?
Fennel can be used ground or whole as an herb in cooking. It can be made into tea, tinctures, capsules or eaten whole.
How do you identify fennel herb and where is it grown?
Fennel is native to the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa but has been naturalized around the world. Growing up to six feet tall, it has green feathery leaves (think of dill leaves), has bright yellow cone-shaped flowers, and it can grow annually, biennially, or perennially. Fennel is known for its black licorice smell—like its cousin anise—which is used in similar ways.
Types of Fennel
- Bitter fennel - for medicinal purposes
- Sweet fennel - for culinary purposes
- Copper and bronze fennel - eater as vegetables in countries such as Italy
Since the time of Hippocrates, fennel was considered a sacred plant. Athletes used it to keep their weight down and aid in their endurance. It was also hung in households to fend off evil spirits and to bring prosperity. In ancient Roman culture, fennel was believed to support the ability to see clearly, both literally and figuratively. And in Ayurvedic medicine, fennel's harmonious nature is believed to bring the three doshas (elemental bodily constituents) into balance. Thousands of years of love for fennel surely must be onto something, it is said to bring peace to the soul.
All parts of this plant are utilized from infusing with honey to culinary dishes, as well as preparing oils, syrups, teas, tinctures and special tonics. Most commonly Fennel is included in cooking, however teas and tinctures are also popular.
Fennel tea is generally prepared with the whole plant, cut root or crushed seeds. One or two tablespoons per eight ounces of water. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
A tincture of Fennel is prepared in a 1:3 ratio, plant matter to fluid solvent such as an alcohol.
Usually Prepared With:
Eucalyptus, Fenugreek, Licorice root, Rhubarb root, Senna and Thyme are all popular herbs to combine with Fennel.