As a member of the family Apiaceae, fennel is closely related to dill, caraway, carrots, cilantro, celery, and parsley. All of these plants produce tall umbels of flowers, and many, like fennel, do so in their second year of growth. Fennel’s golden yellow flowers are followed by abundant seeds that are widely used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, but also in India, and as a component of the Chinese five-spice powder. Fennel seeds, like the leaves and stalks, and even the pollen, have an anise-like flavour of mild licorice.
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