The fennel in the park grows in several generations at the same time. The oldest began with tender shoots in spring, flowered in summer, and now offers heads full of dried seeds with a licorice flavor. (Try some!) A second generation started up around September or later. Those bushes aren’t quite as tall as the older ones. Some of them came into bloom in November and December, although not as radiantly as the earlier generation. Some of those have set fresh green seeds. Those form the breakfast of choice for this White-crowned Sparrow. It picks them and gobbles them left and right. The bird looks well fed, wouldn’t you agree?
Fennel is a Greek import. Its Greek name is marathon. Dense fields of it grew in the Peloponnesus where the Olympics originated. The race route lay on roads cut through the fennel, and the plant gave its name to the race. Fennel is an example of an imported botanical species that has naturalized here. It provides habitat and nutrition to native wildlife at all seasons.