Botanist's Glossary

Anise, Star Anise-tree - Illicium verum

  • Description
    • The Chinese Anise tree (Magnoliaceae family) is an evergreen tree native to China, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years. Its fruit is made up of eight carpels arranged in the shape of a star. Each contains a shiny seed with a distinctive anise-like smell and flavor, which explains the name "star anise".
  • Traditions
    • Long considered a precious spice, star anise was used to pay taxes during the Song dynasty, in ancient China. It is included in Chinese 5-spice powder, which is frequently used in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine.
  • Properties
    • The essential oil derived by hydrodistillation of star anise has both antiseptic and stimulating properties. It is used in perfumery for its warm and spicy liquorice notes.