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Fennel Seeds

Overview

Scientific Name: Foeniculum vulgare

Plant Part: Fruit

Other Names: Shamar, Saunf, Hui-Hsiang, Fenouil, Fenchel, Hinojo, Fenkhel 

Fennel is a flowering plant that belongs to the same family as cumin, carom, coriander, and carrots. It is a hardy perennial herb with feathery leaves and yellow flowers that form in the shape of an umbrella.

Native to the Mediterranean region, every part of this plant is edible including the seeds, bulbs, and flowers.

At full maturity, the plant can grow to about 2.5 meters tall and produce yellow-coloured, umbrella-shaped flowers that ultimately produce seed pods from which the fennel seeds are obtained.

The smell and taste of fennel seeds are similar to that of liquorice or aniseed with warm, earthy, and slightly sweet undertones.

History of Fennel Seeds

The fennel plant is believed to have originated in the southern Mediterranean region although there are early Sanskrit writings where fennel was known as Madhurika and its cultivation in India is thought to date back at least to 2000 BC. 

The ancient Greek name of fennel is Marathon or Marathos, literally meaning a place full of fennel. 

The town where fennel grew was therefore named Marathon by the Greeks.

Interestingly, it is in this very town the famous Battle of Marathon was fought between the Athenians and the Persians in 490 BCE. Legend has it that when the heavily outnumbered Athenians won the war against the Persians, a Greek soldier named Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to announce their victory and this is how the word Marathon came to be used to describe the long-distance form of running as we know it today in modern sport.

Some researchers have suggested that the knowledge of fennel plants goes beyond the Medetaranian history with the most ancient botanical description of fennel appearing in the famous Historia Plantarum (Inquiry into Plants) by the Father of Botany, Theophrastus (4th/3rd cent. BC). 

The Greeks used Fennel extensively for its medicinal powers, fennel was described by two notable Greek physicians, Hippocrates (460–377 BC) and Discorides (60 AD) as a diuretic and emmenagogue.

There are also written accounts from AD 23-79 by the Roman Author Pliny in his book, The Naturalis Historie. He believed that serpents ate and rubbed against fennel because it was able to improve their eyesight after shedding their skins. Following that observation, Pliny believed fennel was so powerful that he used the aromatic herb to treat 22 different ailments.   

Moving on to the late medieval periods, fennel is believed to be a staple in the household of King Edward I of England. His written accounts book mentions fennel as a regularly purchased item.

Harvesting and Post Harvesting Practices


Fennel seeds are ready to be harvested in about 3 to 4 months after the seeds are first sown. Harvesting is done when the umbels change its color from green to light yellow. The umbels are then placed in full sun for about 2 days to be dried and then mechanical threshers are used to separate the seeds from the plant.

Finally, once the seeds are removed, they are taken to a processing plant for cleaning, grading, and packaging. Fennel seeds are graded according to their size, and colour. The seeds are then further tested in a laboratory for broken or damaged seeds, purity levels, moisture content, and volatile oils before being assigned a grade.

Our Supply Chain

The Sabor Co. currently offers imported fennel seeds from India. We procure our produce directly from marginal farmers in the state of Gujarat and further process the fennel seeds in a facility based in New Delhi, India.

Cleaning, sorting, UV or steam sterilisation, and packaging are all done while maintaining the highest safety and hygiene standards. We also provide complete farm-level traceability for our lots of fennel seeds including farmer details, farm location, harvesting date, and farm inputs.

For further information on the farm locations, grades, and varietals of fennel seeds that we offer, please follow the link below.

The volume of fennel production in India is estimated to have amounted to 137 thousand metric tons in 2023. The total land area under fennel cultivation 75260 ha with Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh being the top states for production of fennel seeds. Read more

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