Fennel (Fœniculum officinale, All.), a biennial or perennial herb, generally considered a native of southern Europe, though common on all Mediterranean shores. The old Latin name derived from fœnum or hay. It has spread with civilization, especially where Italians have colonized, and may be found growing wild in many parts of the world, upon dry soils near the sea coast and upon river banks.
It seems to be partial to limestone soils, such as the chalky lands of England and the shelly formation of Bermuda. In this latter community I have seen it thriving upon cliffs where there seemed to be only a pinch of soil, and where the rock was so dry and porous that it would crumble to coarse dust when crushed in the hand. The plant was cultivated by the ancient Romans for its aromatic fruits and succulent, edible shoots.