- FENNEL (Heb. קֶצַח, keẓaḥ), an herb, the sowing and threshing of which are described by Isaiah (28:25, 27). Fennel is the plant Nigella sativa, whose black seeds are used as a condiment. It was used as a condiment in talmudic times, being sprinkled on dough before it was baked (Tosef., TY 1:2; Men. 23b). Different views were expressed on its medicinal and nutritional value, one being that it is good for the heart (Ber. 40a), another that too much of it is injurious to the heart (Kal., ch. 1), and yet another that its pungent smell is harmful (Ber., ibid). Galen, and following him Asaph ha-Rofe, recommended fennel for nasal inflammation (L. Venetianer, Asaf Judaeus, 1 (1915), 172). In Israel three species of fennel grow wild, a cultivated species being raised to a limited extent for use as a condiment. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Loew, Flora, 3 (1924), 120–3; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 184. ADD BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 147. (Jehuda Feliks)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.