Fennel, FlorenceBotanical Name: Foeniculum dulce
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Parts Used: Seeds, herb.
Finnochio or Florence Fennel is a native of Italy, and bears a general resemblance to Foeniculum vulgare, but is an annual and a much smaller plant, being as a rule little more than a foot high. It is a very thick-set plant, the stem joints are very close together and their bases much swollen. The large, finely-cut leaves are borne on very broad, pale green, or almost whitish stalks, which overlap at their bases somewhat like celery, swelling at maturity to form a sort of head or irregular ball - often as big as a man's head and resembling a tuber. The flowers appear earlier than those of common Fennel, and the number of flowers in the umbel is only six to eight.
Cultivation: The cultivation is much the same as for common Fennel though it requires richer soil, and owing to the dwarf nature of the plant, the rows and the plants may be placed closer together, the seedlings only 6 to 8 inches apart. They are very thirsty and require watering frequently in dry weather. When the 'tubers' swell and attain the size of an egg, draw the soil slightly around them, half covering them. Cutting may begin about ten days later. The flowerheads should be removed as they appear.
Florence Fennel should be cooked in vegetarian or meat stock and served with either a rich butter sauce or cream dressing. It suggests celery in flavour, but is sweeter, and very pleasantly fragrant. In ordinary times, it can be bought from Italian greengrocers in London. In Italy it is one of the commonest and most popular of vegetables.
It is grown in this country at Hitchin.