fennel, common name for several perennial herbs, genus Foeniculum vulgare of the family Umbelliferae ( parsley family), related to dill. The strawlike foliage and the seeds are licorice-scented and are used (especially in Italian cooking) for flavoring. Sweet fennel, or finocchio, is a variety with a thick, bulb-based stalk eaten like celery. In literature and legend fennel is a symbol of flattery, a remedy for failing eyesight, and an aphrodisiac. Its inflorescence is a flat-topped umbel of yellow florets. Fennel-flower, a member of the buttercup family, also produces aromatic seeds. The dog fennels are members of the family Asteraceae ( aster family). Fennel is classified in the division Magnoliophyta , class Magnoliopsida, order Apiales, family Umbelliferae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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