The flowering herb fennel produces edible seeds and leaves that can be added to salads or other dishes (the seeds make delicious pickling spices). Bulbous fennel (finocchio) is prized for its anise-like taste.
Biennial in zones 2-5
Dislikes being dry
Back of the border
Fennel: A Field Guide
Edible fennel also has ornamental value in the garden, with its ability to “create an airy, feathery sense of height in areas that are confined and where perceptions of space need to be challenged,” writes our contributor Marie Viljoen.
Be careful, thought; this herb that hails from Mediterranean climates has a tendency to spread its seeds. Considered invasive in California, where Foeniculum vulgare is a roadside nuisance, fennel is best kept under strict control in a garden bed.
From its flowers to the feathery fronds to the bulbous base, all parts of the licorice-tasting plant are edible. Grow this perennial herb as an edible annual in colder climates.