Fennel is a perennial plant which grows up to approximately 1.5 metres in height. The dried seeds are used in sauces, fish dishes and in bread. The leaves and stems may be used fresh in salads. The leaves are very fine-lobed (similar to dill) and have an aromatic and licorice-like aroma. This scent disappears with cooking. All parts of the plant contain ethereal oils. During flowering, the stalks are quite pale and exhibit a marked thickening where they emerge from the soil. These are the parts that are primarily used when cooking the fresh plant. The flowers are small and yellow and grow in clusters of 5-15 cm width. The fruit is a dry seed, 4-9 mm long and half as wide.
Fennel originated in southern Europe, mainly in the Mediterranean area, and from south-western Asia.