Fennel Seed - Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel Seed

Foeniculum vulgare

Of all its medicinal actions, fennel seed is probably most well known as a digestive aid due to its carminative and antispasmodic properties

  • Plant Family: Apiaceae
  • Plant type: Annual
  • Other names: Sweet Fennel
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Bulb, Leaves & Seeds
  • Side Effects: None
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About Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are yet another treasure that intensifies the decorum of the spice box. This flowering hardy, perennial has originated from the Mediterranean region. Its seeds, bulb, and leaves are edible and impart somewhat anise-like taste. The dried fennel seeds are used for adding some depth and flavor to the dishes.

Fennel plants can reach a maximum height of 3 feet. It bears small yet beautiful yellow blossoms and perfectly divided leaves. Fennel seeds are not only used as a culinary herb but they also exhibit some amazing medicinal perks. Fennel seeds are packed with nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. The amount of nutrients in fresh fennel seeds varies slightly from that of dried ones. Fennel seeds are good at halting cellular damage because of the presence of Vitamin C. They can also help to regulate blood sugar level, heal wounds, develop healthy bones, and enhances metabolism.

Fennel seeds contain many powerful biologically active compounds like fenchone, anethole, limonene, and methyl chavicol. These active compounds exhibit antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer activity.

Fennel seeds curb the appetite and also help with a weakened heart. They act as a galactagogue and help the nursing mothers who experience suppressed milk ejection.


Growing fennel from seeds is quite is easy. They can be sown in spring when the temperature of the soil is a bit warm to brace up the seeds for sprouting. It is recommended to soak the seeds in water for at least two days to witness a better rate of germination.

There should not be any danger of frost as this can destroy all the labor. Fennel requires well-drained, moist soil that is acidic in nature, and a lot of water to show healthy growth. Talking of water, the fennel plant requires an inch of water per week and its demand increases when the weather is hot and dry. Also, the soil must be weed-free and have a fine texture.

The seeds must be sown at most 1cm deep and 10inches apart. Fennel can be grown both indoors and outdoors with the provision of the same conditions. For an indoor setting, the pot elected for planting fennel must be at least 10 inches deep.

Fennel seeds take around 7  to 10 days to sprout. The plant grows at a mediocre pace. The shoots emerge from the ground and soon produce true leaves. Exactly after sowing the seeds, the plant starts producing flowers at the 90th day.

The fennel flowers attract flies which is not only good for pollination but also for killing the pests. The process of cross-pollination takes place which is then followed by fertilization to produce seeds. 

The seeds being light get dispersed either by animals or wind to grow on their own in the wild.


Fennel seeds can be harvested when the flowers seem dried and turn brown which usually occurs in autumn.

To harvest fennel seeds, the top of the stalks containing flower heads is clipped and left in a dark place to dry completely. This process can take approximately one to two weeks.

The dried heads of fennel flowers are shaken to loosen the seeds.

Dried mature seeds that are brown in color do not need further special treatment to be stored. But if the seeds seem green then they should be left to dry until they are fully brown.


Fennel seeds have proven to be kitchen and garden-favorite. Also, its medicinal benefits have been the talk of the town ever since its advent. They are being used excessively all around the globe in the different preparatory forms to help support various disorders.  

  • Tincture - Infuse dried, chopped fennel seeds in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea- Dried fennel seeds are steeped in hot boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes to form fennel tea.
  • Decoction - Dried fennel seeds are decocted with water for at least 6 hours to form fennel decoction.
  • Salve - Fennel seed oil is used with beeswax pellets and olive oil to form fennel salve.
  • Syrup - Fennel seeds, white sugar, and water are simmered together until the sugar dissolves. The seeds are strained away and the liquid is transferred to a glass bottle.
  • Infused oil - Dried fennel seeds are simmered in olive oil for an hour. The seeds are strained away and the oil is kept in an airtight bottle for its topical application.