About a month ago, some lads brought a horse to graze on the plot of land alongside ours. Sadly, though unsurprisingly, la yegua isn’t doing a very good job of clearing the brambles.
There’s another plant, too, that she seems to be studiously avoiding, and the other night the car headlights caught this pale army standing menacingly tall on the other side of the wall:
One of the horse’s owners tells me that she avoids this particular plant because it tastes like hinojo (fennel). It clearly isn’t fennel, as it isn’t anything like as strong smelling, and its leaves are far greener and less feathery, but his comment has finally given me the clues to provisionally identify it as cañaheja – ferula comunis. Apparently the common English name is giant fennel.
The plants can easily grow as tall as a person. When it flowers, the cañaheja produces yellow spherical umbels, an inch or so in diameter, which are themselves grouped into larger spherical ‘pom-poms’, arranged in turn around the central stalk.
They always make me think of little individual solar systems in some kind of fractal universe.