'There's certainly too much pepper in that soup!' Alice said to herself, as well as she could for sneezing. — Alice in Wonderland (1865). Chapter VI: Pig and Pepper. Note the cook's pepper mill.


Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a flowering plant species in the carrot family. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean but has become widely naturalized in many parts of the world, especially on dry soils near the sea-coast and on riverbanks.

It is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb used in cookery and, along with the similar-tasting anise, is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe. Florence fennel or finocchio (UK: /fɪˈnɒki/, US: /-ˈnk-/, Italian: [fiˈnɔkkjo]) is a selection with a swollen, bulb-like stem base that is used as a vegetable.

Fennel is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including in its native range the mouse moth and the Old-World swallowtail. Where it has been introduced in North America it may be used by the anise swallowtail.

Fennel is widely cultivated, both in its native range and elsewhere, for its edible, strongly flavored leaves and fruits. Its aniseed flavor comes from anethole, an aromatic compound also found in anise and star anise, and its taste and aroma are similar to theirs, though usually not as strong.

Florence fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Azoricum Group; syn. F. vulgare var. azoricum) is a cultivar group with inflated leaf bases which form a bulb-like structure. It is of cultivated origin, and has a mild anise-like flavor, but is sweeter and more aromatic. Florence fennel plants are smaller than the wild type. The inflated leaf bases are eaten as a vegetable, both raw and cooked. Several cultivars of Florence fennel are also known by several other names, notably the Italian name finocchio. In North American supermarkets, it is often mislabeled as "anise".