Bronze sweet fennel is a dark, smoky foliage plant with liquorice-flavoured leaves and seeds; it works well as a hazy backdrop in perennial borders. The yellow inflorescences attract many ladybirds, which helps to keep aphids at bay. Sweet fennel is specifically grown for its seeds – which are actually fruits – that are used fresh or dried as a spice in many culinary traditions such as bread, salami and liqueurs recipes. Roasted fennel fruits are eaten as mukhwas, an after-meal digestive and breath freshener, or candied as comfit in India.
Fun fact: as a result of Spanish colonisation, the plant became wild and is now widely found along California’s legendary Interstate 101.