Foeniculum vulgare Mill. A Medicinal Herb  

Musharaf Khan1 , Shahana Musharaf2
1. Department of Botany, Federal Government College Mardan, Pakistan
2. Government Girls Degree College Sheikh Maltoon, Mardan Pakistan
Author    Correspondence author
Medicinal Plant Research, 2014, Vol. 4, No. 6   doi: 10.5376/mpr.2014.04.0006
Received: 24 Mar., 2014    Accepted: 11 Apr., 2014    Published: 24 Apr., 2014
© 2014 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

Khan and Musharaf, 2014, Foeniculum vulgare Mill. A Medicinal Herb (A Review), Pakistan, Vol.4, No.6 46-54 (doi: 10.5376/mpr.2014.04. 0006)


Foeniculum vulgare .Mill. commonly known as Fennel belonging to the family Apiaceae, is a small, erect and aromatic herb. A number of chemical constituents and various therapeutic effects of this herb have been reported by different workers. Extensive investigations have been carried out on different parts of herb and as a consequence, varied classes of compoundsfatty acids, hydrocarbons and sterols, Fu­rocoumarins; (imperatorin, psoralen, ber­gapten, xanthotoxin and isopimpinellin), Flavonoids; (isorhamnetin 3-O-α-rhamnoside, quercetin and kaempferol) and quercetin; (3-O-rutinoside, kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside and quercetin 3-O- β-glucoside) have been isolated. So, it has been used in ethnomedicine to exploit its medicinal properties including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antifungal, antibacterial, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activities. The presented review summarizes the information about the ethnopharmacology, toxicity, phytochemistry and biological activity of F. vulgare.

Foeniculum vulgare; Phytochemistry; Biological and ethnomedicine evaluations

Foeniculum vulgare belongs to the family Apiaceae and locally known as saunf is an annual, biennial or perennial aromatic herb, depending on the variety, which has been known since antiquity in Europe and Asia Minor. The leaves, stalks and seeds (fruits) of the plant are edible. The plant is an aromatic herb whose fruits are oblong, ellipsoid or cylindrical, straight or slightly curved, greenish or yellowish brown in colour. Each fruit weighs between 6 and 7 mg, has conspicuous vittae, is about 6 mm long and 2 mm wide in central portion. It is grown almost all over the world both as an ornamental and as a seed crop. It can be grown on marginal land and is considered tolerant to various insect pests and diseases. It is well known for having medicinal properties and it is specially used as a remedy measure for flatulence. Although the fennel crop in Pakistan is not grown on commercial scale, yet on account of its medicinal value, the farmers almost all over Pakistan grow on a small scale for their domestic use only. The produce obtained from such small scale cultivation is not sufficient to meet the country requirements and to meet the gap between production and demand (Ayub et al., 2008). F. vulgare grows wildly in the Mediterranean coastal strip, Egypt (Tackholm, l974). Throughout China it is cultivated and adventive; 200~2600 m. (native to the Mediterranean region; cultivated and adventive worldwide) (Hui xiang, 2005). It has been widely used as a folk remedy by the native people for treatment of various inflammatory ail­ments. Chemically, Foeniculum species are characterized by the presence of essential oils (Ozbek et al., 2003), sterols (Ivanov et al., 1979), coumarins (El-Khrisy et al., 1980; Kwon et al., 2002) and flavonoids (Kunzemann et al., 1977; Parejo et al., 2004). Certain bioactivities have been at­tributed to some Foeniculum species; viz, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities for F. vulgare Mill. aerial parts (Ruberto et al., 2000), anti-inflammatory and analgesic ac­tivities for the fruits of the same plant (Eun and Jae, 2004). Volatiles reported from the fruits of F. vulgare com­prise anethol, methyl chavicol, fenchone and limonene (Muckensturm et al., 1997), as well as piperitenone and piperitenone oxi-de (Badoc et al., 1994). Chlorogenic acid (Ishikawa et al., 1999), caffeic acid and cynarin (Scarpati, 1957) have also been isolated from the plant. Much work has recently been done on the yield and composition of both extracts and volatile oils of fennel of several varieties from several locations (Akgül and Bayrak, 1988; Arslan et al., 1989; Embong et al., 1977; Katsiotis, 1988; Miura et al., 1986; Venskutonis et al., 1996; Verghese, 1988). The purpose of this review was to summarizes the information concerning the botany, ethnopharmacology query, phytochemistry, biological activity and toxicity of F. vulgare plant.

Plants; 0.4~2 m. Lower petioles; 5~15 cm, blade broadly triangular in outline; 4–30 cm×5–40 cm, 4–5-pinnatisect; ultimate segments linear, 1–6 mm× 0.1 mm. Umbels; 5–9 cm across, peduncles; 2~25 cm, rays; 6–29 (–40), unequal, 1.5–10 cm, umbellules; 14–39-flowered, pedicels; thin, 2–10 mm, unequal. Fruit; 4–6 (–10)×1.5–2.2 (–2.5) mm. Flowering period; May~June.
Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae; Subkingdom Tracheobionta; Division Magnoliophyta; Class Magnoliopsida; Subclass Rosidae; Order Apiales; Family Apiaceae; Genus Foeniculum P. Mill.; Species Foeniculum vulgare P. Mill.; Common Names: Fennel, saunf, Adas landi, Adas londa, Anis Vert, Anis, Comino; Part Used: Whole herb
Foeniculum vulgare, Mill. is apparently indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, extending eastwards, but is cultivated for medicinal use in the south of France, in Saxony and Wurtemberg in Russia and Galacia, and also in India and Japan. Like other aromatic Umbelliferous fruits, fennel was well known to the ancients, and was largely used in Europe during the middle ages. For medicinal use Saxon, Russia Galician or Roumanian fruits are to be preferred, as it has been shown that they yield most volatile oil, and that the latter contains fenchone (Greenish, 1999).
Description of the Fruit
Fennel fruits occur in several commercial varieties, varying considerably in size and appearance. Saxon fruits, which may be regarded as the best, are of greenish or yellowish brown colour, and oblong in shape, varying from 8 to 10 mm in length, and    3~4 mm in width. The mericarp frequently remain united and attached to a pedicel. They are glabrous, and bear five paler, very prominent, primary ridges. In a transverse section four large vittae can be distinguished by the naked eye on the dorsal surface, and two on the commissural surface of each mericarp; the endosperm is dark in colour, oily, and not deeply grooved. They have an aromatic odour, recalling anise, and a sweet, camphoraceous taste (Greenish, 1999).
Histology of Fennel
The epidermis is composed of polygonal tabular cells about to 15~30 µ in length and width; it contains occasional stomata and the cuticle is not striated. The mesocarp contains much thickened and lignified parenchyma in the region of the vascular strands of the ribes. These thickened cells have large oval or rounded pits, the bands of thickening between them giving a reticulate appearance to the walls. The remaining parenchyma of the mesocarp is composed of ordinary polyhedral cellulosic cells. The vitae are about 250µ in maximum width and taper towards base and apex of the fruits; the walls are brown and each duct is divided in to chambers by transverse partitions. The vitae are lined by an epithelium of small polygonal–tubular cells. The endocarp consists of narrow elongated cells having a parquetry arrangement and appearing in transverse sections of the fruit as long narrow rectangular cells here and there groups are very short cells, owing to the different directions in which the groups of cells in the parquetry have been cut. The endosperms have the structure characteristic of umbelliferous fruits in general (Wallis, 1985).
Fennel, said to be specially subjected to admixture with exhausted fruits. These include the fruits partially exhausted of their oil by distillation in a current of alcohol vapour in liqueur making, as well as the residues obtained after distillation with water or in a current of steam. Fruits exhausted by water or steam are darker, contain less oil, and sink at once in water, but those exhausted by alcohol vapour retain 1.0 to 2.0 % of oil, and are but little alter altered in appearance; they acquire, however, a peculiar fusel-oil odour. Recoloured fennel can be detected by rubbing the fruits between the hands (Greenish, 1999).
Production and Commerce
Fennel is cultivated on large scale in Saxony, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, Rumania, France, India, Japan, and to lesser extent in a garden herb in this country. It thrives best in well drained garden soil which has been limed. It is propagated from fruits sown directly in the field after preparation of the ground or sowing in seed beds first and later transferring seedlings to the field. The seedlings should stand about 15 inches apart in rows with ample space left between these for cultivation. The fruits are collected similarly to those of anise and packed in bags for shipment (Youngken, 1936).
German fennel is shipped largely through Hamburg, Roumanian Fennel through Hamburg and Trieste, Italian Fennel through Naples and Siaeca, French Fennel from Marseilles, Levant from Trieste, and Indian Fennel through Bambay and London. There is quite difference between these fennels. The German large is preferred. It is green in colour. The French, Italian, Levant, and Indian Fennels are yellow. The Romanian is small green fruit which is not highly prized (Youngken, 1936).
It can be an annual, biennial or perennial plant and is native to the Mediterranean areas (Piccaglia and Marotti, 2001). It is grown in the temperate and sub tropical areas of Pakistan up to an altitude of 2000 m and cultivated as an annual crop. Principal fennel producing countries include India, Argentina, China, Indonesia, Russia, Japan and Pakistan (Volak and Stodola, 1998).
According to Shah and Khan (2006) the vernacular name is sonf, family is Apiaceae, part used is leaves and seeds and it is used as antidiabetics.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.), Family Apiaceae is a short-lived aromatic and medicinal herb, indigenous to Europe and cultivated in India, China and Egypt. Choi and Hwang stated that fennel had anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant activities. The dried, aromatic fruits are widely employed in culinary preparations for flavouring bread and pastry, in candies and in alcoholic liqueurs of French type, as well as in cosmetic and medicinal preparations (Farrell, 1985; Hansel et al., 1993). Fennel and its herbal drug preparations are used for dyspeptic complaints such as mild, spasmodic gastric-intestinal complaints, bloating and flatulence. It is also used for the catarrh of the upper respiratory tract (Czygane et al., 1989; Maduas, 1976; Merkes, 1980; Forster et al., 1983;  Weib, 1991). The seeds of this plant have been known as a promoter of menstruation, to alleviate the symptoms of female climacteric and increase libido (Albert-Puleo, 1980). It has been reported that fennel essential oil is used in the pediatric colic and some respiratory disorders due to its anti-spasmodic effects (Reynold, 1980). The stem, leaves, and fruit are commonly used as the dietary herb “xiao hui xiang” in traditional Chinese medicine to aid digestion. The leaves are used for flavoring and the fruits are used as a spice (fennel) (Hui xiang, 2005). Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) belonging to the family Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) is a well-known aromatic and medicinal herb. It is carminative and commonly used to flavor liquors, bread, fish, salad, soups, cheese and in manufacturing of pickles, perfumes, soaps, cosmetics and cough drops (Tanira et al., 1996; Beaux et al., 1997; Garcia-Jamenz et al., 2000; Patra et al., 2002), while Indians and Egyptians knew it as culinary species (Farooqi et al., 1993).
Vegetative parts of the plant are used as a green salad while fruits have a pleasant, spicy odour and burning sweet taste, and have pharmaceutical, perfumery and food flavouring used. Fennel fruits contain 1%~3% volatile oils, which have disinfectant and anti-inflammatory action, primarily on the respiratory and digestive organs and have an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscle (Stary and Jirasek, 1975). Antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of fennel has also been reported (Ruberto et al., 2000).
Trans-Anethole, fenchone, methylchavicol, limonene, α-pinene, camphene, β-pinene, β-myrcene, α-phellandrene, 3-carene, camphor, cis-anethole, 1,8-cineole, 3-carene, 5-methoxypsoralen, 8-methoxypsoralen, Alanine, Alpha-pinene, Alpha-terpinene, Alpha-terpineol, Alpha-thujene, Alpha-phellandrene, Aluminum, Anisaldehyde, Anisic-acid, Anisic-ketone, Apiole, Arachidates, Arginine, Ascorbic-acid, Aspartic-acid, Avicularin, Benzoic-acid, Bergapten, Beta-phellandrene, Beta-carotene, Beta-sitosterol, Beta-pinene, Boron, Caffeic-acid, Calcium, Camphene, Camphor, Ceryl-alcohol, Choline, Chromium, Cinnamic-acid, Cis-anethole, Cis-ocimene, Citric-acid, Cobalt, Columbianetin Copper, Cynarin, Cystine, D-limonene, Dianethole, Dillapiol, Dipentene, EO, Estragole, Fenchone, Fenchyl-alcohol, Ferulic-acid, Fumaric-acid, Gamma- terpinene, Gamma-tocotrienol, Gentisic-acid, Glutamic-acid, Glycine, Glycollic- acid, Histidine, Imperatorin, Iodine, Isoleucine, Isopimpinellin, Isoquercitrin, Kaempferol, Kaempferol-3-arabinoside, Kaempferol-3-glucuronide, L-limonene, Limonene, Linalool, Linoleic-acid, Magnesium, Malic-acid, Manganese, Marmesin, Methionine, Methyl-chavicol, Myrcene, Myristicin, Nickel,O-coumaric-acid, Oleic-acid, Osthenol, P-cymene, P-hydroxybenzoic-acid, P-coumaric-acid, P-hydroxycinnamic-acid, Palmitic-acid, Pectin, Petroselinic-acid, Phenylalanine, Phosphorus, Photoantheole, Potassium, Proline, Protocatechuic-acid, Psoralen, Quercetin, Quercetin-3-l-arabinoside, Quercetin-3-arabinoside, Quercetin-3-glucuronide, Quinic-acid, Riboflavin, Rutin, Sabinene, Scoparone, Scopoletin, Selenium, Serine, Seselin, Shikimic-acid, Silicon, Sinapic-acid, Stigmasterol, Stigmasterol-palmitate, Syringic-acid, Tartaric-acid, Terpinen-4-ol, Terpinolene, Thiamin, Threonine, Tin, Tocopherol, Trans-ocimene, Trans-anethole Trans-1,8-terpin, Trigonelline, Tryptophan, Tyrosine, Umbelliferone, Urease, Valine, Vanillic-acid, Vanillin, Xanthotoxin, Zinc (Lawrence, 1994; Bernath et al., 1996; Simandi et al., 1999; Ozcan et al., 2001).
A). Antifungal activity
The influence of different hydrodistillation conditions was evaluated from the standpoint of essential oil yield, chemical composition and antifungal activity from seeds of F. vulgare Mill. Three hydrodistillation conditions were considered. The main constituents of the oils were: (E)-anethole (72.27%~74.18%), fenchone (11.32%~16.35%) and methyl chavicol (3.78%~ 5.29%). The method of distillation significantly effected the essential oil yield and quantitative composition, although the antifungal activity of the oils against some fungi was only slightly altered (Mimica-Dukid et al., 2003).
The chemical composition of the flower and unripe and ripe fruits from fennel (bitter) (F. vulgare ssp. piperitum) has been examined by gas chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The main identified components of the flower and unripe and ripe fruit oils were estragole (53.08%, 56.11%, and 61.08%), fenchone (13.53%, 19.18%, and 23.46%), and alpha-phellandrene (5.77%, 3.30%, and 0.72%), respectively. Minor qualitative and major quantitative variations for some compounds of essential oils were determined with respect to the different parts of F. vulgare. The oils exerted varying levels of antifungal effects on the experimental mycelial growth of Alternaria alternata, Fusarium oxysporum, and Rhizoctonia solani. The 40 ppm concentrations of fennel oils showed inhibitory effect against mycelial growth of A. alternaria, whereas 10 ppm levels were ineffective. The analyses show that fennel oils exhibited different degrees of fungistatic activity depending on the doses (Ozcan et al., 2006). The influence of different hydrodistillation conditions was evaluated from the standpoint of essential oil yield, chemical composition and antifungal activity from seeds of F. vulgare. Three hydrodistillation conditions were considered. The main constituents of the oils were: (E)-anethole (72.27%~74.18%), fenchone (11.32%~16.35%) and methyl chavicol (3.78%~ 5.29%). The method of distillation significantly effected the essential oil yield and quantitative composition, although the antifungal activity of the oils against some fungi was only slightly altered (Mimica et al., 2003).
B). Antibacterial activity
Essential oils were extracted from the fruits of Coriandrum sativum L. and F. vulgare and assayed in vitro for antibacterial activity to Escherichia coli and Bacillus megaterium, bacteria routinely used for comparison in the antimicrobial assays, and 27 phytopathogenic bacterial species and two mycopathogenic ones responsible for cultivated mushroom diseases. A significant antibacterial activity, as determined with the agar diffusion method, was shown by C. sativum essential oil whereas a much reduced effect was observed for F. vulgare oil. C. sativum and F. vulgare essential oils may be useful natural bactericides for the control of bacterial diseases of plants and for seed treatment, in particular, in organic agriculture. The significant antibacterial activity of essential oils to the bacterial pathogens of mushrooms appears promising (Lo Cantore et al. 2004).
A phenyl propanoid derivative, dillapional (1) was found to be a antimicrobial principle of the stems of F. vulgare with MIC values of 125, 250 and 125/ against Bacillus subtilis, Aspergillus niger and Cladosporium cladosporioides, respectively. A coumarin derivative, scopoletin (2) was also isolated as marginally antimicrobial agent along with inactive compounds, dillapiol (3), bergapten (4), imperatorin (5) and psolaren (6) from this plant. The isolates 1-6 were not active against the Escherichia coli (Kwon et al., 2002).
C). Antioxidant activity
GC and GC–MS analysis of F. vulgare volatile oil showed the presence of 35 components containing 96.4% of the total amount. The major component was trans-anethole (70.1%). The analysis of its acetone extract showed the presence of nine components accounting for 68.9% of the total amount. Linoleic acid (54.9%), palmitic acid (5.4%) and oleic acid (5.4%) were found as major components in extract. The antifungal and antioxidative potentials were also carried out by different techniques. In inverted petriplate method, the volatile oil showed complete zone inhibition against Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus, Fusarium graminearum and Fusarium moniliforme at 6 μL dose. It was found to be effective for A. niger even at 4 μL dose. Moreover, using food poison technique, the volatile oil and extract both showed good to moderate zone of inhibition. The antioxidant value was evaluated by measuring peroxide and thiobarbituric acid values for linseed oil at fixed time intervals. Both, the volatile oil and extract showed strong antioxidant activity in comparison with butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). In addition, their inhibitory action in linoleic acid system was studied by monitoring peroxide accumulation in emulsion during incubation through ferric thiocyanate method. The results were well correlated with the above results (Singh et al., 2006).
The essential oils obtained from Crithmum maritimum L. (marine fennel) and two samples of F. vulgare (common fennel) were analysed by GC and GC-MS and assayed for their antioxidant and antibacterial activities. The antioxidant activity of the oils was evaluated by two lipid model systems: a modified thiobarbituric acid reactive species (TBARS) assay and a spectrophotometric detection of hydroperoxydienes from linoleic acid in a micellar system. The oils demonstrated antioxidant capacities, comparable in some cases to that of alpha-tocopherol and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), used as reference antioxidants. Concerning the antimicrobial tests the essential oils were assayed against twenty-five genera of bacteria, including animal and plant pathogens, food poisoning and spoilage bacteria. Oils from the two samples of F. vulgare showed a higher and broader degree of inhibition than that of C. maritimum (Roberto et al., 2000).
Herbicidal Activity
Bell et al. (2008) reported that fennel is a major invasive plant in many lower elevation natural areas in coastal California. Three identical field experiments were conducted to evaluate glyphosate and triclopyr for control of fennel. Treatments included each herbicide applied alone and in various combinations. they also compared broadcast applications to spot spraying of individual fennel plants because spot spraying is a commonly used technique in natural area weed management. Most treatments controlled fennel well when evaluated 6 wk and 1 yr after treatment, with the exception of the lowest rate of glyphosate. Purple needlegrass, a native perennial grass, was present in two of the sites. In most, but not all, treatment and site combinations, it was not significantly harmed by the herbicides. The spot spray applications were less effective and used more herbicide per unit area than the broadcast spraying.
The use of cytological and, especially, nuclear DNA and cpDNA molecular analyses in assessing the genetic stability or instability of organogenesis and somatic embryogenesis-derived plants of one fennel (F. vulgare) donor plant belonging to Francia Pernod population, was evaluated. Different morphogenic callus types and both organogenic and embryogenic plants showed the normal diploid chromosome number. All regenerated plant types, when examined by RAPD analyses did not show any nuclear DNA polymorphism. No variation was detected in these plants independently from their morphogenic origin in two cpDNA regions which exhibited the same length, base sequence and restriction profiles. Moreover, the study of a cpDNA microsatellite region including a single Art repeat did not reveal any variation of the repeat numbers in these regenerated plants. These results on the genetic stability and uniformity of organogenic and embryogenic regenerated fennel plants was supported also by a comparison of the cpDNA microsatellite region with other natural fennel plants where variations were found in some of them except Francia Pernod (Bennici et al., 2004).
The composition of hexane extract constituents of ripe mericarps ("achenes") of eleven indigenous populations of F. vulgare was studied. Natural populations were selected along a gradient of annual rainfall from ca. 1000 mm in the northern region down to 125 mm in the Negev desert. Eighteen constituents, with estragole, TRANS-anethole, fenchone, limonene and alpha-pinene as the major components were separated by GC-MS. Characterized by the level of estragole and TRANS-anethole, four different groups were obtained: (1) Highest estragole (63%) and the lowest TRANS-ane-thole (3%) characterized the population of Mt. Meron; (2) estra-gole (39%~47%) and TRANS-anethole (17%~29%) in 3 mountainous populations; (3) estragole (21%~29%) and TRANS- anethole (38%~49%) in the coastal and lowland populations; (4) two exceptional populations with the lowest content of estragole (ca.8%) and high content of TRANS-anethole (55% and 74%). A reversed association between the content of estragole and TRANS-anethole suggests a common precursor. In habitats with a high precipitation, the content of estragole was high and that of TRANS-anethole was low, and vice versa under limited rainfall. It is proposed that the composition of oleoresins of F. vulgare var. vulgare could be governed by environmental conditions. Never-theless, it is not ruled out that genetic variations account for the recorded differences (Oz Barazani et al., 1999).
Zahid et al. (2009) reported that F. vulgare is an important, well-known aromatic and medicinal herb. Fifty accessions of fennel were collected from different parts of Pakistan and evaluated for important characteristics like seed germination percentage (ger %), days to initiation of flowering, plant height, stem girth, nodal distance, umbel diameter, days to 50% maturity, days to harvesting, seed yield per row, weight of 100 seeds, Harvest index (%). Genomic DNA of the accessions was extracted and subjected to RAPD analysis in order to ascertain their genetic diversity. Twenty-four out of 30 decimer primers generated 145 clear bands and 70 (48%) were polymorphic. Sixteen primers OPA- 01, OPA-03, OPA-04, OPA-05, OPA-07, OPA-10, OPA-11, OPA-14, OPA-15, OPA-18, AC-11, AC-14, AC-15, AC-16, AC-18 and AC-20 gave polymorphism for different characters. About 66.6% of polymorphic primers generated the highest index to resolve genetic diversity even in small number of accessions. Seven accessions from Punjab, 3 from NWFP, one from Balochistan and one from Northern Areas of Pakistan had appeared with promising characters.
Khalil et al. (2007) reported that eight medicinal plants (F. vulgare) were cultivated in the Experimental Farm Station of the National Research Centre at Shalakan Kalubia Governorate, Egypt, during the two consecutive seasons 2003/2004. Plants were grown under organic farming conditions, as the soil was treated with organic compost without using mineral or chemical fertilization. The herbs of the plants were harvested and subjected to the estimation of phenolic compounds and antioxidative activities in their extracts. The results showed that plant growth parameters varied greatly. Marigold plants were significantly the highest, while sage plants resulted significantly in the heaviest fresh and dry herb weight. Salicylic acid was the highest phenolic compound, compared to the other fourteen phenolics. Salicylic was present in high contents in all studied plants except sage which contained the largest quantity of pyrogallic acid. Catechol, protocatechenic and cinnamic acid were the phenolics present in the lowest quantity. Different plants greatly varied in the contents of the phenolic compounds. Antioxidant activity increased as efhanol extract raised from 100 ul to  150 ul and 200 ul extract. Sage showed very strong antioxidant capacity (91.34% inhibition of peroxidation at 200 ul extract), followed by dragonhead and plantago. Other plants showed moderate antioxidant activities. Further work on the effect of organic farming compared to chemical one on phenolics and antioxidant activity as well as on different medicinal plants are suggested
Mohamed and Abdu (2004) reported that seeds of the aromatic plant F. vulgare were sown in sandy soil with 0 or 2.5 kg/m2 of organic fertilizer (OF); chicken manure, cattle manure or plant compost. Plants were irrigated three, four, five or six times at 21-day intervals commencing 21 days after sowing and continuing until harvest. Increasing the number of irrigations and application of organic fertilizers significantly delayed harvesting. Water stress imposed by restricting the number of irrigations significantly decreased plant height, branch number, and fruit and oil yield, whereas it increased the percentage volatile oils. All organic fertilizers increased plant growth and yield parameters. With or without organic fertilization, the increase in fruit yield with irrigation outweighed the decrease in volatile oil percentage, so volatile oil yield increased with irrigation. However, there was no significant difference in volatile oil yield between five and six times irrigated plants under any type of fertilization. By increasing both fruit yield and volatile oil percentage, organic fertilizers considerably increased oil yield. Chicken manure fertilized plants irrigated five or six times gave the highest volatile oil yields of 2.08 ml and 2.09 ml plant, respectively, followed by cattle manure fertilized plants irrigated 5 times (1.98 ml plant).
Effect of Salinity
Irrigation of fennel plant with saline water (3355 ppm) under north Sinai conditions resulted in significant reduction in vegetative and flowering characters, consequently fruit yield/plant. The reduction of fruit yield/plant reached 71.5: 76%. The reduction of oil yield/plant 54.2: 58.9%. The reduction of anethole content in oil reached 23.2%. On the contrary the alternate irrigation with fresh (400 ppm) and saline water 1: 1 showed less reduction in fruit yield/plant as 19.0: 25.3% and in oil yield/plant 14.2: 21.3%. The same rate of alternate irrigation 1: 1 fresh: saline did not largely affect oil constituents as anethole, fenchone, limonene and ñ-cymene comparing to all irrigation with saline water at 3355 ppm. Total nitrogen, total carbohydrates and leaf pigments were reduced significantly as all irrigation was done with saline water comparing to alternate irrigation with 1: 1 fresh: saline water. The Efficiency of Using Saline and Fresh Water Irrigation as Alternating Methods of irrigation on the Productivity of F. vulgare Subsp. Vulgare Var. Vulgare under North Sinai Conditions
Little leaf disease caused by phytoplasma was for the first time noticed on F. vulgare in the experimental as well as commercial fields of CIMAP, Lucknow, and its adjoining areas during the month of Feb., 1998. The typical symptoms of the disease are characterized by growth retardation with excessive proliferation of axillary shoots and production of small, narrow leaves which altogether give rise to witches-broom appearance. The severely infected plants turn completely yellow and fail to produce inflorescence. Disease incidence has been found to be in the range of 5%~12 % in the commercial fields. Transmission electron microscopic studies revealed the presence of pleomorphic bodies only in sieve tube elements of diseased plants but not in healthy one. They were variable in size ranging from 110 nm to 970 nm and resembled closely with ultra-structural details of other known plant pathogenic phytoplasmas. Most of the phytoplasma bodies were oval to spherical, some with budding, and surrounded by a single membrane. The symptoms of the disease were temporarily suppressed when treated with tetracycline hydrochloride. This is the first report of a phytoplasma disease on fennel from India (Samad et al., 2002).
In this review the detailed information as presented on the phytochemicals and various biological properties of the F. vulgare. Historically, F. vulgare has been used for the number of ethnobotanical purposes. At present, F. vulgare has become an important source of medicine for curing various human and animal diseases. A part from exploring possibilities to prepare standardized drugs by using different plant parts of F. vulgare i.e. production of tea by using its fruits should be promoted as a laxative for children at home as well as commercial scale. Hence, extensive research is required to find out the mechanisms of action as well as bioactivity of the various phytochemicals and efficacy of the medicinal values of F. vulgare. Thus in the near future F. vulgare extracts could be further exploited as a source of useful phytochemical compounds and may play a very important role in modern system of medicine.
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Zahid N.Y., N.A. Abbasi, I.A. Hafiz, and Z. Ahmad, 2009, Genetic diversity of indigenous Fennel Foeniculum vulgare mill.) germplasm in Pakistan assessed by rapd marker, Pak. J. Bot., 41(4): 1759-1767

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