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Friday, February 27, 2009

Bronze fennel Leaf Day

Here is a new leaf of my bronze fennel, foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum' unfurling. This plant is now 3 or 4 years old, and the stalks get taller than me by the middle of summer. It's a magnet for pollinator insects, as well as aphids and their predators. Fennel (often misnomed anise, including by myself) is a prime larval food for the anise swallowtail butterfly, Papilio zelicaon. This butterfly has yet to visit my garden; breeding populations are likely much more interested in much larger clumps of anise, oops make that fennel, growing in vacant lots, along streams and roads, and generally on once-disturbed land around the county.

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