Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is native to the Mediterranean. It was eaten by the Greeks and Romans, among others, but not introduced to Britain until the early 1700s . The Greek name for fennel was “marathon” and it gave its name to the place because it grew there.
Fennel seeds are an essential flavouring in many cuisines, and fennel bulbs have recently become a popular vegetable in Britain. However, in 1958 Geoffrey Grigson wrote “Perhaps it is the link with the vilest looking, vilest smelling, vilest tasting of nursery medicines which has caused Fennel to be neglected in English cooking…”