Fennel is a species. It genus name is Foeniculum (treated as an unwed species by many botanists ). It grows mostly southern Europe (basically the Mediterranean ) and southwestern Asia. It is a member of the family apiaceae.
Fennel perennial, umbelliferous herb. It is generally regarded indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, whence it spreads eastwards to India. It has followed refinement, especially where Italians have colonized, and may be found growing wild in many parts of the world upon dry soils near the sea-coast and upon river-banks. It is grown as an annual and has a predilection to bolt, a periodic problem with the splitting of the bulb and formation of excessive side shoots within the bulb. High quality bulbs should be tenacious, white, sweet, and whole, with a minimum diameter of 5 cm.
Roots of Fennel use in medicine. Fennel are generally subaltern in virtues to the fruit, which is now the only portion recognized by any of the Pharmacopoeias. There are various varieties of Fennel fruit known in commerce - sweet or Roman Fennel, Indian, Persian and Japanese. The fruits vary very much in length, extent, taste and other characters, and are of very different commercial value.
The most reckoned Fennel fruit vary from three to five lines in length, are elliptical, slightly curved, somewhat obtuse at the ends and pale greyish green in colour. Wild fruits are short, dark coloured and blunt at their ends, and have a less affable flavour and odour than those of sweet Fennel - they are not official.
Medicinal use of fruits Fennel, basically those grown in Saxony, are alone official, as they yield the most volatile oil. Saxon fruits are greenish to yellowish-brown in colour, oblong, smaller and straight. It is propagated in the neighbourhood of Nimes, in the south of France, but yields comparatively little oil, that has no value medicinally.