Saturday, November 3, 2012

A floral umbrella

The fennel plant
The fennel is one of the very few plants that flowers throughout the summer. The first flowers appear in May and it continues blooming until the end of October. It is a tall plant with feathery leaves and small yellow flowers that form an umbrella-shaped inflorescence. 

It is a native of the Mediterranean but now grows in many other areas particularly in dry places close to the sea. Another plant, the giant fennel, has a similar shape but is larger and flowers mostly in late winter.

The plant and seeds are very aromatic and are used both in cooking, liquors and as medicine. Varieties have been created in which the bottom part of the stem is swollen for use as a vegetable. 

This variety of fennel is now widely grown in Malta and is available throughout most of the year except during the warmer months.The fennel plant is known in Maltese as bużbież

Fennel seeds feature in many cuisines especially as an ingredient in spices and curries. In Malta bużbież is used to add flavour to many dishes such as roasted potatoes. 

Fennel also has many medicinal properties. It is one of the ingredients of gripe water which was given to infants to reduce intestinal pains, flatulence and other stomach problems while fennel tea is sometimes used to relieve indigestion in adults.

This article was published in The Times on 25.07.2012

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