Common fennel (Foeniculum vulgare, foeniculum officinale) is a variety of fennel, usually perennial, sometimes biennial, and grown for the bulbous and fleshy bulge of its nested leaves used in food. The roots, leaves and seeds, are edible.
Fennel seeds are sometimes confused with those of anise, which are similar in taste and appearance, though smaller. Fennel is also used as a flavouring in some natural toothpaste. The seeds are used in cookery and sweet desserts.
Many cultures in India, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Middle East use fennel seed in cooking. It is one of the most important spices in "Kashmiri Pandit" and "Gujarati" cooking.
It is an essential ingredient of the Bengali Oriya spice mixture “panch phoron” and in Chinese five-spice powders.
In many parts of India, roasted fennel seeds are consumed as "mukhwas", an after-meal digestive and breathe freshener, or candied as comfit.
Fennel seeds are the primary flavor component in Italian sausage.
In Spain, the stems of the fennel plant are used in the preparation of pickled eggplants, “berenjenas de Almagro”.
An herbal tea can be made from fennel.