There Fennel, also called Mirride odorosa, is a spontaneous aromatic plant that is also cultivated as an ornamental in the open ground or in large planters for its splendid flowering and its decorative anise-scented foliage.
General characteristics of Myrrhis odorata- Mirride
There Odorous myrrid, scientific name Myrrhis odorata, is an aromatic plant of the family of Apiaceae originally from Southeast Europe. It is widespread spontaneously in the cool, humid and shady soils of the mountain areas. In our country, it grows undisturbed even in our country in the clearings, in the mountain pastures and meadows, on the edges of the paths and on the edges of the woods, from 1000 to 200 meters above sea level, especially in the Alps, Prealps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.
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The odorous myrrid also known as myrrid of the Alps is a perennial aromatic herbaceous plant which in full vegetative development forms a large bush, 150 cm high and 90 cm wide.
Has roots fleshy, deep and difficult to eradicate.
The aerial part is composed of erect stems, branching upwards. The stems, hollow and striped, are hairy, green in color and covered with thick, intensely aromatic foliage.
The leaves of Myrrhis odorata resemble the fronds of ferns. They are composed, pinnatosette, slightly hairy and are inserted on 30-40 cm long petioles. Each leaf has triangular-shaped toothed margins with oval lacinias. The leaves rubbed between the fingers give off an unmistakable scent of anise.
THE flowers, are small with a diameter of 3-4 mm and with a corolla composed of 5 petals of white or cream-white color. They are grouped at the top of the stems in umbrella-shaped inflorescences of different sizes. The larger ones carry hermaphroditic flowers, while the small ones inserted on thin peduncles carry only the male flowers. Pollination is entomogamous or entomophilous and therefore occurs by bees and other pollinating insects.
THE fruits I’m seeds thin and elongated, dark brown when ripe. They have a length of 15-25 mm and a width of 3-4 mm. Like the leaves they have an aniseed flavor and represent the most used parts of the plant.
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The odorous Mirride produces abundant flowering from late spring to summer, from May to August.
Cultivation of the odorous Myrride – Finocchiella
This intensely aromatic herbaceous plant, while preferring partial shade, also tolerates sunny exposure well. It does not fear the cold in fact it resists the harsh winters characterized by temperatures constantly below zero.
This pretty herb prefers a soft, humus-rich and very humid substrate.
The odorous myrtle prefers loose soils, of medium texture, fertile, humid, rich in organic and subacid substances, but it also grows well on sub-alkaline soils, while it avoids those that are too heavy and compact as they are subject to water stagnation.
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The odorous myrtle needs irrigation during periods when it does not rain, the soil must always be kept moist,
The cultivation soil of the odorous Mirride must be enriched in pre-sowing with phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) while nitrogen (N) is administered for the entire period of vegetation of the plant, from to autumn. In lack of nitrogen, the plant slows down its growth considerably.
Mirride odorosa: cultivation in pots
It is a beautiful and fragrant plant that can also be grown on hilly altitudes as a vase ornament. The container must be large, wide and deep enough to ensure correct development of the root system and the aerial part. Just plant one plant per pot using expanded clay as a drainage material for the bottom and fresh, fertile, humus-rich soil. For the cultivation in pots of this aromatic and beneficial plant it is advisable to buy the seeds easily available on the market because they are safe and not confused with those produced by other possibly toxic umbellifers.
It is carried out when the roots come out of the drainage holes of the pot, completely replacing the soil. The best time to repot is the spring before the plant drives back the new shoots.
Multiplication of the fennel-Mirride odorosa
The plant easily reproduces by seed and vegetatively by dividing the tufts or roots.
Sowing can be done in spring, from March to April, or in autumn between September-October.
In both cases the seeds are planted directly in the soft and fresh soil which is always kept humid until the tender shoots appear.
Subsequently, the clumped and too dense seedlings must be thinned out to about 50 cm from each other, eliminating the more fragile or less vigorous ones.
Propagation by division of tufts or roots
In order to develop at their best, each clump of Mirride requires a certain space both along the row and on the row.
In spring or autumn, the well-developed roots are divided into small portions with at least one bud.
The portions of the root are planted in holes 5 cm deep 50 cm away from each other. The taking place will be signaled by the appearance of the shoots which generally peek out from the ground after 2 months from the planting.
Planting or planting
The odorous Mirride is planted in autumn or spring.
If the cultivation of fennel is carried out above all for the collection and conservation of the leaves it is advisable to eliminate the umbels at the beginning of flowering in order to guarantee a greater flavor to the leaves.
The fresh leaves to be used can be harvested in stages at any time, from May to December, as needed. Those to be dried, on the other hand, must be harvested before flowering.
The seeds are collected by cutting the inflorescences like an umbrella just before the ripening of the seeds, which is reached by placing them to dry on a tray in an environment sheltered from light, dry and with good air circulation.
The roots are consumed mainly fresh and are harvested in autumn by uprooting them whole from the ground but not before the second year of life of the plant.
The root, on the other hand, is harvested in the autumn season in which the plant has concluded its vegetative cycle.
The leaves harvested in abundance once dried in the shade and dry and then stored in airtight jars or boxes.
Parasites and diseases of the fennel – myrrid odorosa
The fennel is a rustic plant resistant to attacks by common animal parasites such as aphids and scale insects. The root, however, is subject to rot and suffocation if the cultivation soil is poorly draining and too compact.
Cures and treatments
The fennel does not need special care and does not require phytosanitary treatments.
You use fennel or Mirride in the kitchen
Thanks to the anethole (an organic compound widely spread in nature), the leaves of the odorous mirride have an aroma similar to that of anise or wild fennel and, for this reason, they are used in fresh cuisine in mixed salads; cooked they are used in the preparation of stuffed pasta and savory pies, in vegetable soups or to wrap or flavor fresh cheeses, flavor sweet preserves, fruit salads and ice creams.
The dried leaves are also excellent as ingredients of herbal teas and diuretic and digestive decoctions.
The crushed or whole seeds and also the roots are mainly used for the preparation of digestive liqueurs and to flavor grappa.
The soft seed macerates, enclosed within a cloth are used at home to wax wooden furniture.
Properties of the fennel – Myrrhis odorata
This graceful highly aromatic plant also has beneficial properties for health in fact it performs functions: expectorant, tonic, antiseptic, digestive and diuretic, used in folk medicine since ancient times.
In ancient times the root was used against the bites of snakes, dogs and spiders, against the plague and to soothe wounds.
Today the most recognized medicinal properties of fennel mainly concern the aerial parts of the plant, leaves and seeds, parts that are also used to combat halitosis.
The 3% Mirride root decoction, taken in the amount of three glasses a day, promotes diuresis and counteracts cellulite. Herbal teas, on the other hand, have a bechica function and are therefore effective in quelling coughs and promoting the expulsion of mucus.
Warnings: The wild fennel should only be collected by expert people as it is confused with other toxic Apiaceae.
The name of the genus Myrrhis derives from the Greek word Μύρων – mýron, which means perfume and therefore refers to the intense aroma of myrrh or anise emanating from the leaves. The specific epithet of the species emphasizes that the plant has a pleasant aroma of anise, myrrh and musk.
Finocchiella is also commonly called: myrrh, myrrh garden, and sweet chervil.