Saturday, 28 July 2007

Fennel and Friends.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is native to the Mediterranean region and southwestern Asia. It is a highly aromatic erect perennial herb, that has become naturalised in the UK. It is one of three herbs used in the manufacture in Absinthe. The bulb, foliage, and seeds of the fennel plant are widely used in many of the culinary traditions of the world. It has many "medical" uses, from treating flatulence to calming bronchitis and coughs, but it is also the host to many insects. Several species of lepidoptera use it as their food plant, and many more feed on the pollen.
It think it has a very attractive, if understated glaucous green leaves and stems with tiny yellow flowers.
The leaves grow up to 40 cm long; they are finely dissected, with the ultimate segments filiform, about 0.5 mm wide.

The flowers are produced in terminal compound umbels 5–15 cm wide, each umbel section with 20–50 tiny yellow flowers on short pedicels. Here a Ladybird is just landing. I didn't identify this at the time, but it may well be a Harlequin Ladybird, a non-native pest species that is threatening our native species.
Common Wasps appear to be one of the commonest visitors.

This is one of the Hoverflies, I'm still working on the species ID.

This is another wasp mimic. again, I'm waiting for my copy of Micheal Chinnery's new book, which I hope will help identify it.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Fennel - one of my favourite herbs - very good if sprinkled on fish!
And it grows so profusely around here there's always a plant nearby.