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Offering a sweet, licorice-like scent, fennel is a beloved culinary staple that is cultivated worldwide. Used medicinally, its seeds relieve bloating, gas, and abdominal cramps. Fennel has estrogenic properties that balance the female reproductive system, easing menopause and menstrual symptoms.
Parts Used: Seeds
Precautions: Remedies made with seeds and other plant parts are generally considered safe, but you should avoid fennel essential oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Identifying/ Growing: Feathery, darkgreen leaves and bright green stalks rise up from fennel’s base, which is rounded, deeply ribbed, and pale greenish-white in color. The stalks grow to a maximum height of 5 feet, and the tiny yellow flowers grow in tightly packed groups. Fennel should be grown in full sun, and requires a well-drained site. Sow the seeds 12 inches apart and cover them lightly with about 1⁄4 inch of soil. Water lightly after seeding, and keep the planting site moist until shoots appear a week or two after planting. Prevent toppling by staking the plants when they reach a height of 18 inches. Harvest the seeds after they turn brown but before they start popping off their umbels on their own. You can make the process a bit easier by wrapping cheesecloth around the fennel’s top and cutting the stalks. Ensure that the seeds are completely dry before storing them in a tightly capped jar.