Table of Contents
Morales, M.R., D.J. Charles, and J.E. Simon. 1993. Fennel: A new specialty
vegetable for the fresh market. p. 576-579. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon
(eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York.
Fennel: A New Specialty Vegetable for the Fresh Market*
Mario R. Morales, Denys J. Charles, and James E. Simon
- RESULTS AND CONCLUSION
- Table 1
- Table 2
- Table 3
- Fig. 1
- Fig. 2
Finocchio or Florence fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill. ssp.
vulgare var. azoricum Mill. Thell, Apiaceae), is being marketed
as "anise" in supermarkets throughout the United States. While many cultivars
of fennel are grown for the aromatic seed and foliage, finocchio fennel is
produced for the enlarged bulb (thickened leaf bases) (Simon et al. 1984). The
bulbs are becoming increasingly popular as an specialty vegetable where the
bulbs are either consumed raw or prepared by baking, blanching, or boiling.
The bulbs are sold as "anise" because of the strong "licorice" or "anise"
aroma. Increased consumption and demand for the fresh product offers expanded
opportunities for American growers yet very little information is available for
potential producers on production or varietal selection (Morales et al. 1991).
Fennel, a perennial herb grown as an annual, has a tendency to bolt, a periodic
problem with the splitting of the bulb and formation of excessive side shoots
within the bulb. Yet, high quality bulbs should be firm, white, sweet, and
whole with a minimum diameter of not less than 5 cm (Seelig 1974). The
objective of this project was to evaluate fennel cultivars for yield and
Commercial seed of ten fennel cultivars was sown on Apr. 4 of 1990 and 1991.
Seedlings were grown in a greenhouse for 38 days and then transplanted to the
field onto raised beds on May 11 in 1990 and May 14 in 1991. The experiment
was planted in a completely randomized block design with three replications
consisting of single row plots. Rows were 1 m apart, 15 cm between plants and
27 plants/plot in 1990 and, 10 cm between plants and 15 plants/plot in 1991.
Plants (Fig. 1) were harvested on July 17 in 1990 and Aug. 2 in 1991. In late
May and June of 1991, black swallowtail caterpillars (Pappio sp.) were
observed feeding on the leaves of the young transplants and manually removed
from the plants. The middle 13 plants from each plot were harvested and the
roots from each plant discarded. Five representative bulbs per plot were
selected for qualitative evaluation of quality and visual appearance (Fig. 2).
Significant variation among cultivars in bulb yield, bulb dimensions, days to
50% bolting, plant height, and number of side shoots was observed (Table 1, 2).
The cultivar 'Zefa fino', from Royal Sluis and Johnny's Seed Company, was the
highest in bulb weight, the lowest in foliage yield, and the second lowest in
plant height, indicating an increased allocation of carbohydrates into the
bulbs rather than to the foliage. 'Zefa fino' had significantly greater bulb
circumference than the other cultivars (Table 1). Disease and insect damage to
the bulbs was minimal and not different among cultivars (Table 2). Bulb width
and circumference were correlated with bulb weight (Table 3).
'Zefa fino' also showed significant differences from the other cultivars in
days to 50% bolting. The later maturity of this cultivar is highly desirable
because a longer vegetative period permits the plant to produce larger and
heavier bulbs. 'Zefa fino' had the lowest number of side shoots on the bulbs,
an undesirable genetic trait among some cultivars.
The time from sowing in the greenhouse to harvest was 104 days in 1990 and 120
days in 1991; time from field transplanting to harvest was 67 days in 1990 and
80 days in 1991. Average growing season of direct seeded fennel in California
ranges from 110 to 125 days (Seelig 1974). 'Zefa fino' had the greatest bulb
weight and circumference. Because the width and thickness of finocchio fennel
bulbs continues to increase over time (Suhonen and Kokkonen 1990), the
determination of the optimum harvest period is difficult. While bulbs from all
cultivars met the minimum requirement for bulb size (Seelig 1974), significant
differences in visual appearance and shape suggests that genotype is very
important in bulb quality. The most attractive appearance among the cultivars
evaluated was 'Zefa fino', whose bulbs were white, firm, highly aromatic with
no visual discolorations.
- Ahmed, A., A.A. Farooqi, and K.M. Bojappa. 1988. Effect of nutrients and
spacings on growth, yield and essential oil content in fennel (Foeniculum
vulgare Mill.). Indian Perfumer 32(4):301-305.
- Morales, M., D. Charles, and J. Simon. 1991. Cultivation of finocchio fennel.
Herb, spice, and medicinal plant digest. Coop. Ext. Serv. Univ. of
Massachusetts, Amherst 9(1):1-4.
- Seelig, R.A. 1974. Anise. Fruit and vegetable facts and pointers. United
Fresh Fruit & Veg. Assoc., Alexandria, VA.
- Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick, and L.E. Craker. 1984. Herbs: An indexed
bibliography 1971-1980; the scientific literature on selected herbs, and
aromatic and medicinal plants of the temperate zone. Archon Books, Hamden,
- Suhonen, I. and L. Kokkonen. 1990. The effect of planting date on growth,
seed stalk development and yield of sweet fennel. J. Agr. Sci. Finland
*Journal Paper No. 13,211, Purdue Univ. Agr. Expt. Sta., West Lafayette, IN
47907-1165. This research was supported in part by grants from the Indiana
Business Modernization and Technology Corporation, Indianapolis, and the Purdue
University Agricultural Experiment Station (Specialty Crops Grant No.
014-1165-0000-65178). We thank Tom DeBaggio and Jules Janick for providing us
with some of the Italian germplasm.
Table 1. Foliage and bulb means per plant of ten finocchio fennel
cultivars grown in central Indiana for two growing seasons, 1990-1991.
zSeed sources were RS = Royal Sluis, Holland; JS = Johnny's Selected
Seeds, Albion, Maine; SAIS = Societa Agricola Italiana Sementi, Cesena (FO),
Italy; FM&C = Faraone Mennella & Co., Pagani (SA), Italy; C = Companion
Plants, Athens, Ohio.
| ||Bulb characteristics|
|Cultivar ||Seed source ||Foliage weight (g/plant) ||Weight (g) ||Length (cm) ||Width (cm) ||Circumference (cm)|
|Zefa fino ||RSz ||111 ||75ay ||14.1a ||9.8a ||10.8a|
|Zefa fino ||JS ||106 ||74a ||13.8a ||10.0a ||21.5a|
|Wandenromen ||RS ||144 ||58b ||14.8a ||8.9ab ||18.9b|
|Romano precoce ||FM&C ||130 ||58b ||14.4a ||8.9ab ||18.6b|
|Romanesco, Urbe ||SAIS ||132 ||57b ||15.1a ||8.9ab ||18.9b|
|Grossissimo mammuth ||FM&C ||135 ||54bc ||14.7a ||8.8ab ||18.5bc|
|Romagna ||SAIS ||134 ||48bc ||14.2a ||8.3bc ||17.5bcd|
|Parma, Fucino ||SAIS ||113 ||45bc ||14.3a ||7.6c ||16.7cd|
|Florence ||CP ||132 ||42c ||13.8a ||7.9bc ||16.6d|
|Mantovano ||SAIS ||116 ||41c ||12.2b ||8.1bc ||17.6bcd|
|Grand mean || ||125 ||55 ||14.1 ||8.7 ||18.5|
|CV || ||22 ||20 ||8.5 ||10.5 ||7.7|
yValues followed by same letter are not significantly different at P
Table 2. Characteristics of ten finocchio fennel cultivars grown in
central Indiana, 1991.
xBased on visual estimation of damage rating scale from 0 (no
damage) to 5 (severe damage).
|Cultivar ||Seed source ||Days to 50% bolting ||Plant height (cm) ||Disease damagex ||Insect damagex ||No. side shoots|
|Zefa fino ||RSy ||114az ||41cd ||1.3ab ||0.0 ||5.1b|
|Zefa fino ||JS ||116a ||42cd ||1.1ab ||0.3 ||5.1b|
|Wandenromen ||RS ||103bcd ||52a ||1.1ab ||0.0 ||7.2a|
|Romano precoce ||FM&C ||107b ||48ab ||0.8ab ||0.0 ||5.5ab|
|Romanesco, Urbe ||SAIS ||106bc ||49a ||1.1ab ||0.2 ||6.0ab|
|Grossissimo mammuth ||FM&C ||106bc ||50a ||0.7b ||0.0 ||5.6ab|
|Romagna ||SAIS ||102bcd ||49a ||1.1ab ||0.2 ||6.7ab|
|Parma, Fucino ||SAIS ||101cd ||45bc ||1.2ab ||0.2 ||5.1b|
|Florence ||CP ||100d ||53a ||0.8ab ||0.2 ||6.3ab|
|Mantovano ||SAIS ||100d ||40d ||1.7a ||0.0 ||5.6ab|
|Grand mean || ||105.5 ||47 ||1.1 ||0.1 ||5.8|
|CV || ||2.7 ||4 || || ||17.3|
ySeed sources were RS = Royal Sluis, Holland; JS = Johnny's Selected
Seeds, Albion, Maine; SAIS = Societa Agricola Italiana Sementi, Cesena (FO),
Italy; FM&C = Faraone Mennella & Co., Pagani (SA), Italy; CP =
Companion Plants, Athens, Ohio.
zValues followed by same letter are not significantly different at P
Table 3. Correlations of plant characteristics from ten finocchio
fennel cultivars grown in 1990 and 1991.
*, ** Significance different from zero at P = 0.05 and 0.01, respectively.
|Traits ||Bulb wt. ||Bulb length ||Bulb width ||Bulb circumference ||Days to 50% boltingz ||Plant heightz|
|Foliage weight ||0.48** ||0.18 ||0.58** ||0.60** ||-0.29 ||0.36|
|Bulb weight || ||0.24 ||0.70** ||0.84** ||0.46** ||0.04|
|Bulb length || ||0.23 ||0.22 ||-0.01 ||0.22|
|Bulb width || ||0.92** ||0.47** ||0.02|
|Bulb circumference || ||0.54** ||-0.16|
|Days to 50% bolting || ||-0.36|
zData from only 1991.
Fig. 1. Finocchio fennel plants growing in central Indiana.
Fig. 2. Close-up of finocchio fennel 'bulb' cv. Zefa fino, comprised of
thickened leaf bases formed at the base of the plant.
Last update September 17, 1997