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Perennial or biennial aromatic herb (Foeniculum vulgare) of the parsley family, native to southern Europe and Asia Minor and widely cultivated. The greenish brown to yellowish brown oblong oval seeds smell and taste similar to anise. The seeds and extracted oil are used for scenting soaps and perfumes and for flavouring candies, liqueurs, medicines, and foods, particularly pastries, sweet pickles, and fish. The thickened base of Florence fennel (F. vulgare dulce) is eaten as a vegetable.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on fennel, visit Britannica.com.