Tag: fennel

Week in Retrospect : 1 Jan 2018 – 7 Jan 2018

Week in Retrospect : 1 Jan 2018 – 7 Jan 2018

And just like that, it is a new year! 2018 marks the 5th year that I’ve lived in New Zealand, the golden year of immigration adjustment, if sources are to be believed. I’ve always loved being a Kiwi, but let’s hope this year will indeed…

Newsletter – September 2017

Newsletter – September 2017

Newsletter and Growing Calendar for September 2017 It’s Spring! Yay and hooray! Lots to start doing in the garden now – have a look at the monthly calendar (Sept2017) for ideas on what herbs, flowers, vegetables and fruit to sow, grow or pot up now.…

Seed Saving – Umbelliferous plants (think Parsley, Fennel & Dill)

Seed Saving – Umbelliferous plants (think Parsley, Fennel & Dill)

A great many of my umbelliferous plants are going to flower now and seed now, making it a perfect time to save seeds for new plantings. You probably have some umbelliferae in your garden too! It is a big word, for a big family, but it basically means fragrant plants that have an upside down umbrella-like flower.

A quick botany lesson

Plants belonging to the umbelliferae family are known as the carrot or parsley family, and make up a group of mostly aromatic herbs. A defining characteristic of these plants are that they flower in a simple or compound umbel. An umbel is a flower made up of a number of short, equal in length, flower stalks radiating from a single point – see images below.

Umbels
Umbels
Umbel infloresence
Umbel inflorescence

 

 

 

 

 

Umbelleferae in your garden

Fennel

Now that you see what it looks like, you can probably identify a couple of herbs in your garden that fall into this family – here is a list of just a few that are commonly grown:

  • Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
  • Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
  • Caraway (Carum carvi)
  • Carrot (Daucus carota)
  • Celery (Apium graveolens)
  • Chervil (Antrhiscus cerefolium)
  • Cicely (Myrrhis odorata)
  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
  • Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Parsnip (Pastanica sativum)

 

Besides saving seeds, or letting your herbs self-sow, there is also another important reason to let these plants bolt (grow a flower stalk to produce umbels, and eventually seeds) – and this reason is apparent in their alternative family name Apiaceae. Apis = bees. Bees love to forage on the flower nectar, and the umbels are also great spots for other beneficial insects to rest, refuel and hide.

 

How to harvest umbelliferae seeds

Harvesting seeds from these plants are really easy, as the umbels of flowers ripen into clearly distinctive seeds which can easily be rubbed off when ripe. I wait until the seeds are ripe (browning or darkening) on the plant and just pinch a bunch between my thumb and fingers and rub them – seeds that are ripe will easily come off, and can be caught in a bag or your other open hand. Alternatively, the whole umbel head can be cut off and shaken into a bag. Keep saved seed in a cool and dry place until you are ready to sow them.

Parsley seed
Parsley seed
Mitsuba seed
Mitsuba seed
Coriander seed
Coriander seed
Dill seed
Dill seed
Saved dill seeds
Saved dill seeds

A note on safety with umbellifereae

There are some really poisonous plants in the carrot family too, e.g. poison hemlock and water dropwort, so don’t harvest umbellifereae from the wild…

 

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) Above the lower plants it towers, The Fennel with its yellow flowers; And in an earlier age than ours Was gifted with the wondrous powers Lost vision to retore. It gave new strength and fearless mood; And gladiators, fierce and rude Mingled…