Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Also known as smokey fennel, bronze fennel grows 2-4 feet tall and is an unusually-colored herb in the carrot family, native to the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia. Its unique color scheme makes it a great back-of-the-garden accent plant. Though not native to our area, Black Swallowtail caterpillars love to eat its bronze-tinted, feathery leaves. In addition, other pollinators love its umbels of nectar-filled flowers that appear mid-summer - try the flower pollen yourself---it's delicious and all parts of the plant are great for digestion. I love to grind up the dried seeds and mix in ground meat to impart a sausage flavor. It can be used interchangeably with green fennel as a culinary herb – if the swallowtail caterpillars leave you any, that is!
Plant in full to part sun in moist to average, well-drained soil; it’s drought-resistant once established. Bronze fennel has a deep taproot, and doesn't transplant well, so it's best to sow in place ¼” deep in fall or spring. It’s a fast grower and readily reseeds.
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