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This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wildflowers of Malta: Fennel

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Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare; buzbiez in Maltese) is a hardy perennial that is perfectly suited to the Mediterranean climate. The plant, which can grow up to 2.5 metres in height, has feathery leaves and yellow flowers that grow in the form of an umbel (umbrella). The plant propagate easily from the seeds and it’s life cycle is perfectly adapted to the climate. The flowers bloom throughout summer and start to form seeds. By the start of the rainy season in September, the seeds start to ripen, drying out throughout autumn and falling to the ground.

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As autumn turns to winter, the plant dies and all that is left are hollow stems. It reappears again during the warm days of spring. It is one of the very few wild plants that can thrive during the rainless summers that characterise this region.

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In Greek mythology, Prometheus used the stalk of a fennel plant to steal fire from the gods .

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The plant is highly aromatic and, together with anise, is one of the main ingredients of absinthe. It is used widely in Mediterranean cuisine – in fact the seeds, the leaves and the bulb are edible. The seeds taste lovely scattered on roasted potatoes in a traditional Maltese dish known as  patata l-forn.

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Fennel is also said to have medicinal properties and has been used to treat indigestion and chronic coughs and as a diuretic.

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Fennel

Location: Mtarfa & Tal-Virtu, September 2012

3 comments:

  1. We have seen *a lot* of fennel, here, so yes, the seeds do propagate with tremendous ease. But then, I've seen a lot more untended flora this late summer than before. So much so that it has been preoccupying me a bit. On the banks of a nearby canal there have been so many black-eyed Susans!

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  2. I think I have seen only dried fennel for tea. It is a nice flower !

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  3. Hello Loree:
    In our gardening days we used the bronze leaved form of Fennel a lot in planting schemes. It added such wonderful height to the border as well as its most intriguing colour and beautiful airiness. And, an added bonus was that, unlike the usual green form which you show here, it only seeded about gently!!

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