Learning about Spices
What is a spice?
Why were spices important?
Sources of spices
Perfumes and Incenses 
Use of spices as aphrodisiacs
Use of spices as medicines
Culinary herbs
A spice timeline

Table of Spices
Allspice (Pimento)
Anise
Black Pepper
Cardamom
Cassia
Chile Pepper
Chocolate
Cinnamon
Clove
Coriander (Cilantro)
Cumin
Dill
Fennel
Fenugreek
Frankincense and Myrrh
Galangal
Garlic
Ginger
Horseradish
Licorice
Mustard
Nutmeg and Mace
Onion
Saffron
Sugar
Sumac
Tamarind
Turmeric
Vanilla

Contacts and Acknowledgments
Common Name FENNEL FENNEL
Click image to enlarge
Genus SpeciesAnethum foeniculum
FamilyApiaceae
Origin Mediterranean, Near East
Cultivated Southern and Western Europe (notably Galicia and Provence), South Africa, China, New Zealand, East Indies, US A and temperate parts of South America
  
  
  
  
  
Description The Romans called this native Mediterranean plant foeniculum, meaning fragrant hay. It thus has a similar name to fenugreek, but the two are quite different. Fennel stalks and stems are used as a vegetable, while the stronger tasting fennel seeds have a flavor more like aniseed or licorice. In ancient Greece it was known as Marathon (because it grew at this battle site), and it was used as a symbol of victory. In Italy, fennel is called finocchio; it used to be regarded as an emblem of flattery, and it suggested foppishness or perhaps homosexuality.

In the past, fennel was regarded as an essential culinary spice and as being an herb with mystical properties. Legends suggested it was beneficial for eyesight, and it was subsequently used for gastrointestinal disorders and for coughs. In this respect, its use resembled that of anise and dill. Fennel stalks are becoming more popular in the U.S.A. as a vegetable or salad, but its European role in cooking is as a flavor for fish, bread and confectionary . In China, it is found in the well-known five-spice powder, along with Szechwan pepper, anise, clove and cinnamon. See a list of spices by Taste and Hotness.
Useful Parts The seeds are used and the stalks are eaten as a vegetable.
Medicinal Properties No specific medical values have been demonstrated for fennel seeds.
See chemicals in spices.
Historical View “Fennel fruits are aromatic, stimulant, and carminative, resembling, in these particulars the fruits of anise, caraway, and dill. They are rarely used in substance, but more commonly in the form of the distilled water and the volatile oil. Fennel water is alone official in the British Pharmacopoeia and the Pharmacopoeia of India: it is a useful remedy to relieve flatulence, and as a pleasant adjunct to other medicines to prevent griping, etc.”

Bentley, Robert and Henry Trimen. Medicinal Plants; being descriptions with original figures of the principal plants employed in medicine and an account of the characters, properties, and uses of their parts and products of medicinal value. London, Churchill, 1880. (WZ 295 B556m 1880)
FENNEL
Click image to enlarge

Spice Exhibit URL: http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/biomed/spice/index.cfm

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