What we grow - Biodiversity

Wild Fennel


Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) Is a Mediterranean herbaceous plant of the Apiaceae family (Umbrelliferae). The etymology of the name is as follows:

  • The first term of the binomial comes from the Latin used to indicate fennel and from “foenum” (Hay = Fieno), due to the thinness of the leaves and its intense aromatic smell or perhaps because it was once used as forage.
  • The second term means that the plant is very widespread (Vulgare = common), to distinguish it from other rarer related species.

Known since ancient times for its aromatic properties, it was introduced in Europe by the Romans. Much appreciated by the Greeks, the history of fennel began precisely in the plain of Marathon, a place famous for the battle between the Athenians and the Persians (The fennel shares part of its etymological history with the Olympic discipline of the marathon, in fact, according to an ancient Greek legend, the Athenian soldier called Filippide crossed, running for 42 km, the plain of Marathon, to announce to his fellow citizens the victory over the Spartans. From here the Olympic discipline was born, which still today is run for the same distance); in this place the fennel grew spontaneously, and the ancient Greeks called it, in fact, “marathon”. Pliny says that fennel has a great property for eye care, in relation to the fact that the snakes, once the skin had been changed, were going to rub against a fennel plant to regain their sight, it seems in fact that fennel was an ancient antidote to this animal’s sting. In religious manifestations, it symbolized the idea of rebirth, or spiritual regeneration.


The varieties of wild fennel are distinguished from the varieties of horticultural production (Called Sweet). Wild fennel is a spontaneous, perennial plant, with a branched stem, up to 2 meters high, has green leaves reminiscent of hay and produces umbrellas of small yellow flowers in summer and, subsequently, fruits (Achenes, improperly called “seeds”), first green and then greyish. The buds, leaves, flowers and fruits of the wild fennel are used. Cultivated fennel, or sweet fennel, is an annual or biennial plant with taproot root, it reaches 60-80 centimeters in height, and the large white heart “sheath” that develops at the base is consumed.


Wild fennel has several health benefits, carminative properties (Absorb and delete gas), antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, draining properties. Alleviates gastrointestinal disorders, promotes intestinal well-being and counteracts the formation of kidney stones and water retention. It reduces the risk of chronic diseases related to aging and inflammation. Rich in fiber, it provides about 30 calories per hectogram and fats are practically absent, such as cholesterol. It boasts a good presence of potassium, a mineral useful for well-being in all seasons, and is also a source of calcium, magnesium and iron. It also contains vitamin A and vitamin C, which are necessary for skin health and the immune system.


Wild fennel requires little water, however, since it is often grown in arid areas, it is still necessary to check that the soil does not dry out completely and irrigate if necessary, especially during the summer. Mulching is essential, especially in summer, to keep the soil from drying out, and during the winter, to keep the roots warm. To renew the organic substance present in the soil, make compost or mature manure, in a moderate dose. When winter arrives, the fennel plant must be cut, but the root remains in the ground, which can give life to a new crop the following year.