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These plants, funghi and insect illustrations
are part of my botanical oracle deck

Foeniculum vulgare | Fennel

Botanical Overview of Fennel

  • Scientific Name: Foeniculum vulgare

  • Common Names: Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Wild Fennel

  • Family: Apiaceae

  • Description: A hardy, perennial herb with feathery, finely divided leaves and yellow, umbrella-shaped flower clusters (umbels). It produces a distinctive anise-like aroma and flavor. The plant grows up to 2 meters tall and has a thick, bulbous base.

foeniculum vulgare botanical illustration

Properties of Fennel

  • Chemical Constituents: Essential oils (anethole, fenchone, estragole), flavonoids, coumarins, phenolic acids, and fiber.

  • Edibility: All parts of the fennel plant are edible, including the seeds, leaves, and bulb. It is used in a variety of culinary applications for its sweet, anise-like flavor.

Distribution and Habitat of Fennel

  • Native Range: Mediterranean region.

  • Preferred Habitat: Prefers well-drained, fertile soils and full sun. It thrives in temperate climates and is often found growing wild along roadsides, fields, and coastal areas. Fennel is widely cultivated worldwide for its culinary and medicinal uses.

Medicinal Properties and Uses of Fennel

  • Traditional Uses: Fennel has been used since ancient times for its digestive and carminative properties. Traditionally, it was used to relieve bloating, gas, and indigestion. It was also employed to enhance lactation and to treat colic in infants.

  • Modern Applications: Fennel continues to be popular in herbal medicine for its ability to soothe digestive issues, act as a mild diuretic, and support respiratory health. Fennel seeds are used to make teas that aid digestion, reduce inflammation, and act as a mild expectorant. The essential oil of fennel is also used in aromatherapy for its calming and detoxifying effects.

Magical Correspondences and Uses of Fennel in Magical Practice

  • Element: Air

  • Planet: Mercury

  • Magical Properties: Protection, purification, healing, and courage.

  • Uses: Fennel is used in magical practices for its strong protective qualities. It can be hung over doors and windows to ward off evil spirits and negative energy. Fennel seeds are carried in pouches or used in spells to bring courage and strength. It is also used in purification rituals to cleanse spaces and people. Fennel can be included in healing spells and brews, drawing upon its traditional medicinal uses to support physical and emotional well-being.

Folklore, Legends, and Mythology of Fennel

  • Historical Context: Fennel has been revered since ancient times. The Romans associated it with longevity, strength, and courage, while the Greeks believed it could bring wisdom and understanding.

  • Folklore: In medieval Europe, fennel was hung over doorways and stuffed into keyholes to protect against witches and evil spirits. It was also believed to bring good luck and ward off bad dreams when placed under pillows.

  • Mythology: According to Greek mythology, Prometheus used a giant fennel stalk to steal fire from the gods and bring it to humanity, symbolizing enlightenment and knowledge. This association ties fennel to wisdom and the quest for understanding.

Historical Literary Sources

  • Pliny the Elder’s "Natural History": Discusses the various uses of fennel in ancient Rome, emphasizing its medicinal properties and its role in Roman culture.

  • Culpeper’s "Complete Herbal" (1653): Nicholas Culpeper describes fennel’s protective and healing properties, reflecting its importance in traditional herbal practices.


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