Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel)

These aromatic, feathery pale green stalks, and yellow satellite-shaped flowers that grow in wastelands around the US were a sacred ritual object in ancient Rome. The plant’s stature can be imagined from the story of Prometheus bringing fire to humans hidden inside a hollow fennel stalk. The dye colors of Fennel feel like a hearth, a fire in the grate. These plants grace barren, human-altered places, and often grow abundantly in huge stands. Native to southern Europe and Asia Minor, their wispy and elegant stance on roadsides are a boon for those needing digestive help, or for deep constitutional issues. A perennial herb in the carrot or Apiaceae Family, fennel is cultivated worldwide and is invasive in the US and Australia. Charlemagne (747-814 CE) instructed all imperial farms to cultivate fennel. The entire plant is edible.

The seeds are reminiscent of anise and licorice, and contain many micronutrients. In traditional Chinese medicine, fennel removes congestion, which may be how fennel exerts influence on the landscape, moving energy. In magic, fennel protects and clears negative energies. Swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on fennel plants. Traditionally, fennel treats digestive issues, common colds, and also cancer, arthritis, liver and kidney issues, bone and eye health.

Elizabeth Oriel 2022