This time of year wild fennel is flowering all over the Adelaide plains and the hills. While it grows a lot on the sides of roads, councils tend to spray poison a lot there too. This patch was growing near a creek. Wild fennel doesn’t grow bulbs like the stuff sold in the shops. The young fronds, seeds and pollen are edible.
When I stopped to check this patch I also found a lovely fig tree with large plump figs on it. I’ll go back and collect those later when ripe.
I collected flower heads with firm yellow flowers on it like the photo below for saving the pollen. Be careful not to collect all the heads as these are food for bees and the flowers will turn into seeds which can be eaten green or at maturity. The mature seeds will also drop making new plants.
The flower heads should be put in a paper bag when transporting to catch any pollen that may fall out. When you get home take the flower heads out of the bag and rub together over a piece of white paper. You should see little yellow fluff dropping, this is the fresh fennel pollen. If you want dried pollen just leave the heads in the paper bag till it dries out then shake it loose from flower heads and store pollen in jar in the cupboard. Eight flower clusters will make about a tablespoon of pollen. I’m holding one cluster in the photo above.
I put my fresh pollen in the freezer overnight to kill any miniature bugs that may hiding in the pollen, then keep it in the fridge. The fresh pollen can be used as a spice and you don’t need much, just a pinch. It has a delicate aniseed flower. It can be added to cooked meals like pasta or to add flavour to a salad dressing.