Ever since ancient times, fennel has enjoyed a rich history. The ancient Greeks knew fennel by the name "marathron"; it grew in the field in which one of the great ancient battles was fought and which was subsequently named the Battle of Marathon after this revered plant. Fennel was revered by the Greeks and the Romans for its medicinal and culinary properties. Fennel has been grown throughout Europe, especially areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and the Near East since ancient times. Today, the United States, France, India and Russia are among the leading cultivators of fennel.
A perennial that grows tall, Fennel has an erect, bright green stem. The yellow flowers grow in dense, compact clusters. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible. The fruits, which are about 1/2 inch long, are oval and ridged. The seed heads are harvested just before the seeds ripen. Fennel seeds are sweetish in taste, and work as fabulous flavor-enhancers along with all their healing properties. Fennel's aromatic taste is unique, strikingly reminiscent of licorice and anise, so much so that fennel is often mistakenly referred to as anise.
Nutritional Profile: Fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C. It is also a very good of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, folate, and molybdenum. In addition, fennel is a good source of niacin as well as the minerals phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper.
Yoga/Holistic benefits: Fennel seeds are a cooling spice (cools the body) and have a unique combination of nutrients that make it a powerful antioxidant. It is also believed to help cure stomach complaints and is extremely good for digestion. In India, eating a few fennel seeds after a meal is a common practice.