Home Herbal Monograph Fennel, Indian Sweet Fennel
History

Hippocrates mentioned it as a diuretic and emmenagogue, and its juice was supposed to sharpen the eyesight. It was used by the natives of India as a condiment and as an aromatic adjunct to medicines. It often can be found in Arabic and Persian works on Materia Medica. The roots were also an important medicine.

Habitat

Originally indigenous to South Europe, it is now widely cultivated throughout the temperate and sub-tropical regions of the world for its aromatic fruits.

Morphology Description (Habit)

It is a biennial or perennial and glabrous herb that grows to a height of 1.5-2.0 m high with fistular stem. The rootstock is perennial but of short duration. Stem is glabrous, erect, stout and aromatic. Leaves are 2-4 pinnate, narrow, ultimate segments linear, stiff in dry conditions but slender in cultivatable conditions, stipulate and usually with sheathing leaf base. Umbels are rather large and more or less glaucous and terminal. Bracts are in the form of and involucre. Outer flowers may be rayed and mostly protandrous. Calyx is adnate to the ovary. Corolla lobes are 5 and margin incurved. Fruit is a cremocarp with two indehisent carpels compressed called mericarps and have five longitudinal ridges called primary ridges alternating with furrows. Generally, there are 2 varieties; var. vulgareand var. dulce. But the Indian variety is considered a distinct variety var. Panmorium (Syn. F.panmorium).

Principal Constituents

The volatile oil content is 0.7-1.2 % in Indian variety, but it is 4-6% in Europe varieties. Methyl chavicol was detected from oil1. Fruits also contain pentosan, pectin, trigonelline, fenchone, seselin, anethole and choline. The essential oil contains sesquiterpene, germacrene-D and b caryophyllene. Anethole, seselin, fenchone are also identified from the fruits. But the fruits from Ootagamandalum (Tamilnadu) are free from anethole

Indications

Seeds have laxative, aphrodisiac, stomachic, appetiser, anthelmintic, alexiteric, galactogogue, diuretic and are used in eye diseases, burning sensation, fever, thirst, wounds, dysentery and leprosy. The fruit is also used for veneral diseases and promotes female monthly regularity. Leaves also have diuretic properties. Roots are regarded as a purgative. Fruits are used for flavouring soups, meat dishes, sauces, confectionery and also pickles. They are listed officially in the pharmacopoeia of all countries. Aquatic extracts are given as a digestive tonic to infants and children. It is also employed as an enema for infants.

References
  1. Shah, Curr Sci, 38, 365, 1969.