A TO Z OF HERBS
F is for Fennel and Feverfew
Not to be confused with Florence Fennel whose swollen stem base is used as a vegetable, the herbaceous fennel, sometimes called wild or sweet fennel is a tall perennial with finely cut leaves that look a lot like Dill. The yellow flowers are borne in umbels and the whole plant is very attractive to beneficial insects. There is a bronze-leaved variety that looks prettier in the garden. Don't plant fennel next to beans and tomatoes as it doesn't grow well with them.
Fennel is said to be a good slimming aid since it is an appetite suppressant and chewing the seeds can keep hunger pangs at bay. It can be used as an eyewash and a gargle for inflamed throats. Fennel is said to keep fleas at bay so you can use it in pet's bedding.
In the kitchen, the leaves are used to flavour fish and the seeds in breads and stews.
Sow fennel seeds in spring and remove unwanted seedlings in subsequent years as it self-seeds readily.
Feverfew is a short-lived perennial with daisy-like flowers in summer which make a good cut flower.
As the common name suggests, it was widely believed to be beneficial in reducing fevers and recently it has been mentioned as possibly bringing relief to migraine sufferers. Take this herb in small quantities as an infusion.
It is also said to bring on a period and can be used for arthritis to reduce inflammation.
Feverfew has no culinary uses.