When visiting the beaches of east Attica in springtime, the presence of this yellow giant is really striking.
The giant fennel (Ferula communis) has a stem that can grow to 4 meters high. From spring to early summer, it forms umbrella-shaped branches with small yellow flowers. After flowering, the stem dries, and its wood is hard and light at the same time which made it perfect for immobilizing broken limbs until the bones set. It is all called Narthex and in Greece doctors still use the term “narthex” to describe equipment that is used to immobilize injured body parts. Its wood was also used to make traditional Greek walking sticks.
Its stem was also precious because when the spongy bulb inside hardens it could hold embers for a very long period of time. That is why fishermen brought the stalks of the giant fennel to sea and always had a fire ready. In Ancient Greece, the cylindrical stem was used as a torch for carrying fire. The myth of Prometheus probably reflects this when he used a narthex stem for carrying the fire he secretly stole from Hephaestus.
So next time you come across this fierceful giant, you will know that its strength and power really come from within!