Fennel was known to the ancient Chinese, Indians and Egyptians who used it principally as kitchen spice. No mention is made of it in the translations of the Bible. It is frequently mentioned, however, as a garden and medical plant in Roman literature at the beginning of the Christian era,4) also in the treatises on medicine and distillation of the later middle ages.5) During the latter period fennel appears to have been cultivated and used more extensively than anise.
The oil of fennel has no doubt been known since the time of the preparation of the distilled waters. In the 16. century it appears to have been introduced along with fennel water as a remedy. Its preparation is described by Brunschwig6) and by
1) Liebig's Annalen 44 (1842), 313.
2) Ibidem 44 (1842), 318; and 48 (1843), 234. - Journ. f. prakt. Chem. 36 (1845), 267.
3) Liebig's Annalen 41 (1842), 74.
4) Theophrasti, Eresii Opera quae supersunt omnia. De causis plan-tarum. Edit. Wimmer. Vol. VI, 10, 3, pp.16, 18, 99, 101, 310. - Dioscoridis, De materia medica libri quinque. Editio Kuhn-Sprengel. 1829. Vol. 1, pp. 406, 417. - Columella, De re rustica in Nisard's Les agronomes latins. Paris 1877. Lib. V, cap. 10, p. 303. - Plinii Naturalis historiae libri XXXVII. Lib. XX. 95, 96. Editio Littre. Vol. 1, p. 334 and vol. 11, p. 39. - Palladii De re rustica, Editio Nisard, Les agronomes latins. 1877. Lib. Ill, 14, p. 568 and lib. XII, p. 486.
5) Capitulare de villi's et cortis imperialibus 812. Translated and explained by A. Thaer in Fuhling's Landwirtschaftliche Zeitung. April number 1878, pp.241 - 260. - Walafridi Strabonis Hortulus. In Choulant's MacerFloridus, De viribus herbarum. 1832. p. 148. - Ibn-al-Awam, Livre d'agriculture, translated by Clement Mullet. 1864. - Ibn-Baitar, Sammlung der Rohstoffe. Editio Leclerc, Traite des Simples. Paris 1881. Vol. II, p. 164. - Hildegardis Abbatissae Subtilitatum diversarum naturarum creaturarum libri novem. Editio Migne. 1855. Fol. 1154 and 1156. - Pfeiffer, Zwei deutsche Arzneibucher aus dem 12. und 13. Jahrhundert. Sitzungsber. der kais. Akademie der Wissensch. in Wien. 42 (1863), 142. (Hawsers Geschichte der Medicin. 1875. Vol. 1, p. 663.)
6) Hieronymus Brunschwig, Liber de arte destillandi. De simplicibus. 1500. fol. 47.
Porta.1) In the municipal ordinances of drugs and spices it is first mentioned in that of Berlin of 1574 and of Frankfurt-on-the-Main of 1582; also in the Pharmacopeia Augustana of 1580 and the Dispensatorium Nor/cum of 1589.
Early investigations of fennel oil were made in 1779 by Heyer'2) of Braunschweig, in 1792 by Gertinger3) of Eperies in Hungary, and in 1793 by Gottling of Jena and by Giese of Dorpat. Further observations, which like the above deal mainly with anethol, were made by Buchner4) and by Goebel. Blanchet and Sell5) recognized in 1833 the identity of the stearoptenes from fennel and anise oils. This observation was corroborated in 1842 by Cahours.6) Wallach investigated fenchone, a body characteristic of fennel oil, and which possesses considerable theoretical interest on account of its similarity to camphor.