By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Star anise (Illicium verum) is a tree related to the magnolia and its dried fruits are used in many international cuisines. Star anise plants can only be grown in United States Department of Agriculture zones 8 to 10, but for northern gardeners, it is still fun to learn about a unique and flavorful plant. There are many star anise uses too, both for scent and flavor. Read on to learn how to grow star anise in suitable areas and find out how to use this amazing spice.
Star anise plants are fast growing evergreen trees, that occasionally grow up to 26 feet (6.6 m.) but usually smaller with a spread of 10 feet (3 m.). The fruit is a spice that smells a bit like licorice. The tree is native to southern China and northern Vietnam where its fruit is used heavily in the regional cuisine. The spice was first introduced to Europe in the 17th century and used whole, powdered or extracted into an oil.
They have lance-shaped olive green leaves and cup-shaped, soft yellow blooms. The leaves have a licorice scent when crushed but they aren’t the part of the tree used in cuisine. The fruit is star shaped (from which its name derives), green when under ripe and brown and woody when ripe. It is composed of 6 to 8 carpels, each of which contains a seed. Fruits are harvested when still green and dried in the sun.
Note: Illicium verum is the most commonly harvested, but is not to be confused with Illicium anisatum, a Japanese plant in the family, which is toxic.
Star anise makes an excellent hedge or standalone plant. It has no tolerance for frost and cannot be grown in the north.
Star anise requires full sun to partial shade in almost any soil type. In warmer climates, growing star anise in full shade is also an option. It prefers slightly acidic soil and needs consistent moisture. Compost or well-rotted manure is all the fertilizer this plant needs.
Pruning can be done to maintain size but is not necessary. That said, growing star anise as a hedge requires trimming and keeping the fast-growing tree short to avoid excess maintenance. Whenever the tree is cut, it releases a spicy fragrance.
The spice is used in meat and poultry dishes as well as confections. It is one of the main ingredients in the traditional Chinese seasoning, five spice. The sweet scent is a perfect pairing with rich duck and pork dishes. In Vietnamese cooking, it is a main seasoning for the “pho” broth.
Western uses are generally confined to preserves and anise flavored liqueurs, such as anisette. Star anise is also used in many curry concoctions, for both its flavor and scent.
Star anise is 10 times sweeter than sugar due to the presence of the compound anethole. The flavor is compared to licorice with a hint of cinnamon and clove. As such, it is used in breads and cakes. A traditional Czechoslovakian bread, vanocka, was made around Easter and Christmas.
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Illicium verum is a medium-sized evergreen tree native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China. A spice commonly called star anise, staranise, star anise seed, star aniseed, Chinese star anise, or badian that closely resembles anise in flavor is obtained from the star-shaped pericarps of the fruit of I. verum which are harvested just before ripening. Star anise oil is a highly fragrant oil used in cooking, perfumery, soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and skin creams. Until 2012, Roche Pharmaceuticals used up to 90% of the world's annual star anise crop to produce shikimic acid, a chemical intermediate used in the synthesis of oseltamivir (Tamiflu). 
When choosing broadleaf evergreen shrubs for Southern landscapes, it is easy to fall back on the ones that we see in neighbors' yards and the ones that are commonly available. Every neighborhood is filled with azaleas, camellias, gardenias, loropetalums, and ligustrums. However, there are some less-commonly chosen evergreen shrubs that will add charm and distinction to your landscape.
Florida anise ( Illicium floridanum) is one of the South's most dependable broad-leaved evergreen shrubs. Glossy but leathery dark green leaves 2 to 6 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide adorn the tree year-round. A sniff of the leaves reveals a pleasant anise scent that tempts the passerby to tear a leaf in order to enjoy the spicy aroma.
In spring, maroon, 2-inch diameter flowers with many straplike petals bloom. While they are attractive enough for viewing, getting too close may reveal a somewhat fishy odor. Do not cut the offending blossoms, though, for the flowers give way to star-shaped, papery folicles that hold the BB-like seeds. When mature, the seeds burst and send the seeds in all directions. These seeds germinate readily and provide an easy means of propagation. New plants can also be obtained from mature or hardwood cuttings that root easily.
Expect Florida anise to grow from 10 to 15 feet tall and about 6 to 10 feet wide. Hardy from USDA Zones 7-10, it is an excellent choice gardens in the Deep South. Specimens can be found in the wild in the Florida panhandle and across Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to southeastern Louisiana. Common names include Florida anise, purple anise, stinkbush, and star anise.
Plant Florida anise in shade to partial shade in well-drained, moist, acid soil. Soil high in organic matter is preferred. If your soil is either extremely sandy or clayey, adding organic matter to the entire area where the shrubs are to be planted will be beneficial. Fertilize in spring as growth begins with an all-purpose fertilizer and mulch well to maintain moisture and boost the organic content of the soil. Few pests attack this native shrub.
If desired, the shrub can be trained into a small tree by removing some of the lower limbs. For a more rounded, shrublike form, tip prune to encourage branching, especially when young. If a hedge is desired, plant on 10-foot centers for compactness. In a mixed shrub border, allow about 15 feet between Florida anise and other shrubs to maintain the individuality of each specimen. Florida anise fits well into naturalistic landscapes in damp, shady areas.
Kinds of Illicium
Cultivars of Illicium floridanum include the white-flowered form album, as well as cultivars like 'Semmes' and 'Alba'. Choose 'Halley's Comet' for darker flowers and an extended bloom time. For variety, select 'Shady Lady' for its variegated leaves and pink flowers. 'Pebblebrook' is a dwarf cultivar that grows to about 5 feet tall and wide.
Yellow anise (Illicium parviflorum), another Florida native, is also very useful in the landscape. Size is perhaps a bit larger than Florida anise (15 to 20 feet tall), and it can tolerate more sun. Leaves are olive-green, especially when grown in sun, and small yellow flowers often go unnoticed. The growth habit is upright to pyramidal, and suckers often appear around established shrubs. The plant tolerates a wide variety of soils, from extremely moist to dry, and is tolerant of both sun and shade.
Yellow anise is easily rooted from cuttings, and it occurs naturally in wet areas in southern Georgia and Florida. Hardy in Zones 7-9, it is a vigorous and worthwhile plant where a broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree is needed.
Do not use llicium floridanum or I. parviflorum as spices. Both are toxic and should not be ingested. The popular star-anise (Illicium verum) that is used as a culinary spice hails from China and Vietnam.
Japanese anise-tree (Illicium anisatum), which is native to China and Japan, is well-suited to gardens in USDA Zones 8 to 9. It makes a great evergreen shrub or small tree growing from 6 to 10 feet tall. Highly adaptable, this plant can be grown in full sun or in a mostly shaded location. Although it grows best in moist, well-drained, rich soil, it is moderately drought tolerant and requires little fertilizer for good foliage color and adequate growth. Fruits are extremely toxic. Suckering does not seem to be a problem with this species.
Very rare and seldom encountered in the trade are three other species. Mexican anise-tree ( Illicium mexicanum) hails from Mexico, and Henry anise-tree (Illicium henryi) comes to us from western China. Rarer still is Illicium simonsii, a Chinese species that bears pale yellow flowers. Perhaps one day these uncommon species will become more available.
Regardless of the species or cultivar of Illicium that you choose for your garden, one of them will surely be a good addition. In time it may become one of your all-time favorites. Remember that it is not necessary to choose the same evergreen shrub that your neighbors have. Branch out and add uncommon beauty to your garden with Florida anise or any other of the anise shrubs.
|AT A GLANCE|
Common names: Florida anise, purple anise, stinkbush, star anise
Scientific name: Illicium floridanum
Pronunciation: il-LISS-ee-um flor-ih-DAY-num
Family: Illiciaceae (Illicium)
Origin: Florida panhandle to southeastern Louisiana
Size: 10-15 ft. tall/6-10 ft. wide
Other species: Illicium verum (star anise) I. parviflorum (yellow anise), I. mexicanum (Mexican anise-tree), I. henryi (Henry anise-tree), I simonsii, I. anisatum
Propagation: Cuttings seeds
Thanks to bootandall, conor 123, growin, plantfreak, and mgarr for pictures used in this article. Mouse over each picture for identification.
HOW TO GROW STAR ANISE | 10 ULTIMATE STEPS
HOW TO GROW STAR ANISE | 10 ULTIMATE STEPS
This growing guide is going to enlight us on how to grow star anise, but before that let us see what we are going to study and achieve and also the objectives of this guide before we continue.
After reading this guide we should be able to know :
Now that we have established the objectives of this guide that is how to grow star anise and know what we are going to achieve, then it’s time for us to start the ball rolling.
let start now ….
INTRODUCTIONS TO STAR ANISE
Star anise (Illicium verum) is a tree related to magnolia and its dried fruits are used in many international cuisines. Star anise trees can only grow in zones 8-10 in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but it’s always fun to learn about a unique and delicious plant in northern gardens. . There is plenty of use for star anise, both in smell and taste. Read on to learn how to grow star anise in the right place and how to use this amazing spice.
It belongs to the Elysia family, a species of Dicotyledonas angiosperm. It is a tropical evergreen tree, 5 to 10 meters tall. Star anise has huge, glossy greens, its white flowers are beautiful and of great decorative value. The star anise fruit has eight carpels that together they form a star-shaped fruit (hence the name “star anise”).
Other names: Anis de China, Anisestrelado, Anistoilet, Anistyly Chinois, Anisid Stars, Anisistelatifraktas, or Xiao Hui, Badiana, Badian, Badian de China, Bajiyo, Chinese Anise, Chinese Star Anise, Eight-Horned
WHAT IS STAR ANISE?
before we start the guide concerning how to grow star anise first let see so history about star anise, Star anise trees are fast-growing evergreen trees, sometimes up to 26 feet tall but usually smaller than 10 feet wide. The fruit is a spice that smells a bit like wine juice. The tree is native to southern China and northern Vietnam, where its fruits are widely used in regional cuisine. The spice was first introduced to Europe in the 17th century and is used in whole, powder or oil extraction.
They have lance-shaped olive green leaves and delicate yellow cup-shaped flowers. The leaves have a licorice aroma when crushed but they are not part of the plant used in cooking. The fruit is star-shaped (hence the name), green when ripe and brown and ripe when ripe.
It is made up of 6 to 8 carpels, each with a seed. The fruits are green and cut in the sun-dried state. Note: Elysium varium is the most widely harvested plant, but the Japanese plant in the family should not be confused with Elysium anisatum, which is toxic.
HOW TO GROW STAR ANISE
Star Anise is a tree native to native Mongolia. It is famous for being used in many international cuisines. This tree is unique in its taste and shape. It is distinguished by its star-shaped fruit which smells and tastes like black licorice. This plant is versatile and can be used to flavor food or to decorate the garden. Also, it is easy to learn how to grow Star Anise.
Although many gardeners think that star anise is a delicate plant, in reality, it is not. It is a very strong and adaptable plant. You can grow it in full sun or partial shade and it tolerates dry and moist soil. This tree likes heat and warmth but it can withstand a few degrees of cold but not snow. If the temperature drops below 15F, your tree will die. Therefore, if you live in the north, you should grow this tree.
Star Anise is very popular in Asia in general and in China in particular. If you’ve ever ordered Chinese food, you’ve definitely tasted Star Anise. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine for its aroma and flavor. It is 1 times sweeter than sugar. Thus, it is ideal to use for baking cakes and bread. It is also widely used in curry concoctions. If you want to learn how to grow Star Buddhism, follow the steps below.
HOW TO PREPARE AND PLANT STAR ANISE SEEDS
Carefully preparing and planting the seeds will give the best chance of success. Since it needs to be planted soon after harvest, try to start the process as soon as the seeds are sown. Or, store the seeds in damp sand in a sealed plastic bag or container in the fridge for up to a month.
STAR ANISE GROWING CONDITION
Star Anise grows locally in Vietnam and China and in tropical climates. It is a perennial plant that is tender to frost. Star anise grows only in areas where the temperature does not fall below 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 centigrade). If you live in a cold region below USDA Zone 9, arrange Plant Star Anji in a container so you can keep it in a greenhouse or indoors in the winter.
Step 1: PROPAGATION STAR ANISE
There are three ways to increase Star Anise. The first is to buy potted plants from your local garden centre. Make sure you choose a healthy plant.
The second way is to grow star anise from the cut. You will need the part that is at least four inches long. Cut it with a sharp knife. Cutting is required to grow sterile soil. A mixture of sand or peat and perlite is perfect for enhancing your cutting. Cutting is recommended because it allows the roots to grow faster.
The third way to grow star anise from seed. Thus you need to provide an ideal temperature for seed propagation. The ideal temperature is between 65F and 70F You can pick the seeds in containers or directly in your garden. Water frequently to keep the soil moist in any way
If you choose to grow your plant in a pot, be sure to drill drainage holes at the bottom to drain excess water, otherwise, you risk putting your plant in root rot.
Step 2: POSITION STAR ANISE
Star anise is a very adaptable plant, so it is easy to choose a place to grow. This tree can grow in full sun as well as in partial shade. The most important thing to keep in mind is that this plant does not like frost, so choose a place where the temperature does not drop below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. You should avoid exposure to dry air.
Step 3: THE SOIL
Slightly acidic, moist soil is required for the growth and development of star anise. Soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0. Also, make sure that the soil you are using has dried well with a two-fibrous texture. For best results, you can add compost and fertilizer.
Step 4: PLANTING OF STAR ANISE SEEDS
If you have grown star anise from seed, you need to test the seeds first. Place the seeds in a container filled with water. The seeds sown below are valid seeds and you can plant them. However, seeds floating on the surface are illegal and you must discard them.
When you have legal seeds, sow 1/2 inch deep in the soil. If available, cover them with potting soil.
Step 5: WATERING OF STAR ANISE
Star anise needs regular watering. The soil must be constantly moist. However, you need to water it completely as the roots will rot due to overtreating. In winter, water less frequently. In fact, water is needed only when.
Step 6:STAR ANISE FERTILIZING
Star anise is not a heavy food, in fact, you only need to fertilize it once. Fertilizer of this plant should be applied in spring using compost or old manure. Spray the soil around the plant with fertilizer and you can grow the plant perfectly
Step 7: STAR ANISE PRUNING
Your bag needs to be pruned and pruned to keep the shape of the tree. This will make your plant bushier. Since the size is proposed but not required, special size is not required. But pruning dead, weak and diseased branches is the best way to prune your star anise.
Step 8: STAR ANISE PESTS AND DISEASES
As we mentioned in the introduction to this article, star anise is an extremely hardy plant. Therefore, there are no diseases and pests that can infect it. In fact, this tree can protect itself. It has replanted properties and antibacterial compounds that protect it from pests and diseases.
Ninth step: HARVESTING STAR ANISE
To harvest star anise, you have to be patient. This tree can take up to six years to mature enough to produce fruit if grown from seed. You should pick the fruits when they are not yet ripe. Then place them in a sunny place and let them dry in the sun. When they turn reddish-brown, remove the seeds and store the fruit or cook it.
Step 10: GROWING STAR ANISE TIPS
These are the best steps for growing a star anise plant. Growing this plant may take a few years, but it’s definitely worth the wait. Its unique flavor and healing effects cannot be found in any other tree. However, if you want to grow fast-growing herbs, you can try growing safflower, fenugreek, and betel leaves. They grow quickly and are extremely healthy and delicious to spice up your kitchen.
Enjoy growing star anise and if you have any problem, please do not hesitate to contact us.
WHAT DO WE USE STAR ANISE FOR?
Very nice to look at, but what do you do with it?
What most people don’t realize is that Star Anise is actually a deliciously powerful spice that can work wonders for your kitchen, especially meat.
But first the basics. Star anise is the fruit – yes, the fruit – of the Chinese-based tree in southern China (where most of it is still produced).
When dried, this fruit looks like 1 inch, rusty colored stars, usually with six to eight dots. At each point there is a small shiny seed.
The taste, which is in the seeds themselves and in both of them, is very sweet and licorice-like, like anise (although not related to plants).
In China, which has been using it for centuries, five-spice powders (including cloves, cinnamon, anise and Sichuan pepper) are a key ingredient in star anise.
Despite its sweetness, the Star Anise tradition is traditionally used in culinary recipes, especially with meat. It is often added whole to soups, stews and broths, adding a sweet-liquorice-chilli flavour to it.
Star Anise can be used whole or ground. When complete, it is usually added to liquids for slow seaming or charcoal. It is usually removed from the dish before serving.
Ground star Anis is more versatile. It should be combined with more strength and care. And like all whole spices it needs to be ground just before use.
The best way to try this is to slow roast beef. Start with the stock base, then add the onion, soy sauce and whole star anise. Add Sichuan pepper if you like.
However, it is necessary for onion and soy sauce. The combination of aromatics with Star Ice works to naturally intensify the taste of meat, just like MSG. It’s incredible.
What else can you do with it? Play with its soft side.
Add star anise sugar with cinnamon
Brush the bread crumbs with butter, then sprinkle with star anise and cinnamon sugar. Toast bubbly under the broth or in the toast oven until lightly browned.
Quick 1 cup Quickly mix everything with a stick of oats and softened butter. Spread this mixture over the blueberry muffins before baking.
Use 1 tablespoon of the mixture instead of 1 tablespoon of sugar in your favorite pancake or waffle recipe.
Use regular sugar substitutes to sweeten the apples. Or use sugar in the apple crank instead.
A Melt the butter on a large non-stick scale. Slice a banana in the middle and bottom. Add a teaspoon of sugar to the pan, then add the bananas and simmer on both sides for several minutes until light brown. Eat banana pieces alone or use as a garnish for ice cream or pancakes. Be sure to use the liquid in the pan as a pancake or ice cream syrup.
Melt your favourite meatball recipe (or use it frozen) in a little butter. Transfer the meatballs to a baking dish and keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees F. Meanwhile, return the impure scallet to the heat. Add more butter, chopped onion and a little soy sauce. Cook until the onions are smooth, then add 1 tablespoon sugar mixture and a little white wine to reduce the pan. Serve the meats on top with the sauce in the pan.
When growing star anise, do not confuse it with Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum) or “Shikimi”, which is a poisonous plant native to Japan. Its seeds or fruits look a bit like those of star anise and are only slightly smaller and resemble cardamom, having a more rounded shape and a small hook.
* This article is dedicated to Illicium verum (real star anise), do not confuse it with Pimpinellaanisum (anise), Illicium anisatum (Japanese star anise), a poisonous plant or Illicium parviflorum (swamp star anise).
Florida Anise: An Underused Native Shrub
Red flowers will cover the Florida anise in the spring. Photo by Mike Fagan.
Florida Anise: An Underused Native Shrub
(This article originally appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat on June 14, 2019)
So often when we are planting our landscape, we look at what our neighbors and friends have planted. This is not a bad way to go as we can see plants that we like. However, this often limits us to plants we traditionally see – azaleas, camellias, ligustrums, loropetalums, and boxwoods. Why not branch out and consider some less common evergreen shrubs that will add diversity to your landscape and will stand out from the others?
Florida anise blends in well with other shrubs, especially in a woodland setting. Photo by Mike Fagan.
The Florida anise (Illicium floridanum) is a good choice. This underused evergreen shrub is native to the Northwest Florida Panhandle, extending along the coastal plain toward Louisiana. As a native, it is well adapted to our area and rarely has any disease or pest problems. Not only that, it is a very attractive shrub that offers small red blooms in the springtime.
Florida anise performs best in shade to part sun locations. In the wild, you will find this plant along shady ravines, so it is tolerant of wet conditions. In deep shade it will have a more open form. It works especially well in a woodland type garden.
The dense foliage, dark green leaves, and maximum height of 12 to 15 feet, make this anise a great choice for an informal hedge. So, if you have a wooded area in the back of your property and need some additional screening, this is your plant. It also works well in a mixed border with other shrubs, such as camellias and azaleas.
The new springtime growth of the Florida anise has bright green leaves. The leaves will turn a darker green after spring. Photo by Mike Fagan.
If you crush the leaves of a Florida anise you will notice a licorice like aroma. Be aware that this is not the species that gives us the edible culinary anise. Do not use Florida anise as a spice – it is toxic. Because the foliage is poisonous, Florida anise is resistant to feeding insects and deer. That is a real bonus for those with deer browsing issues.
If you are interested in other varieties of anise for North Florida, please consider the following. They are available in local garden centers.
Ocala Anise (Illicium parviflorum). This is native to Central Florida. Its upright, pyramidal form will grow to a height of 10 feet with an eight-foot spread. It is very versatile as it tolerates wet or dry, and thrives in sun or shade, although it has a more open form in shade. I have seen it used a lot in commercial landscapes, but it works well in the home landscape as a screen. I planted a hedge in a sunny area that frequently floods, and it has done fine.
‘Florida Sunshine’ (Illicium parviflorum). This is a cultivar developed from the Ocala anise and is gaining in popularity. It has stunning yellow to yellow-green foliage when sited in shade. This plant will light up a dark corner of any shade garden. In full sun it tends to bleach, becoming a very pale yellow, almost white. Its upright, pyramidal shape should grow six to eight feet in height, with a spread of four to six feet. This one is worth a try.
‘BananAppeal’ (Illicium parviflorum PIIIP-I). This is another cultivar from the Ocala anise. It was introduced in 2016 and is similar to ‘Florida Sunshine’. ‘BananAppeal’ is a lower grower, about three to four feet tall and wide. The stems of young shoots are orange-red, contrasting nicely with the brilliant yellow leaves.
‘Orion Anise’ (Illicium hybrid ‘NC1H2′). This is a new anise that has a compact growth habit and white, star-shaped blooms in the spring. It should grow to three feet high with a spread of four feet. Like the other anises, it tolerates wet to average soils, and does best in part sun to full shade. I have not tried this one, but it sounds interesting. Plant it and tell me how it works out.
Holiday Anise Cookie Recipe
There are many fine recipes using anise. One favorite is for this simple holiday cookie, adapted with the permission of the publisher from Best Loved Recipes of the American People by Ida Bailey Allen (Doubleday, 1982, $8.95).
Sift together 2 cups of flour, 3/4 teaspoon of ground aniseed, and 1 cup of sugar. [EDITOR’S NOTE: You can substitute date or turbinado sweetener — to taste — if desired.] Cut in 3/4 cup of cold butter until the mixture is flaky. In a separate bowl beat together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk, then add these to the flour mixture. Shape the dough into tiny (1/2-inch-diameter) balls, place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten each ball to 1/16-inch thickness. Bake them for 6 to 8 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit — until the edges are lightly browned — but don’t overcook!
Illicium comes from the Latin illicio meaning "entice" or "seduce". 
Verum means "true" or "genuine". 
The name "badian" appears to derive, via French badiane, from the apparently descriptive Chinese name for it, 八角, pinyin: bājiǎo, lit. "eight horns". However, a derivation from the Persian بادیان bādiyān, "fennel", exists, with the Oxford English Dictionary indicating that its origin before that is unknown. 
Leaves are aromatic, simple and lanceolate, obovate-elliptic or elliptic, size of 5–15 cm × 2–5 cm, coriaceous to thickly coriaceous.  The leaves are 5–15 cm × 1.5–5 cm, apex acute, lower side pubescent.  Flowers are solitary, bisexual, pink to dark red, axillary or subterminal.  The perianth has lobes 7-12, arranged spirally stamens number of 11-20, arranged spirally, with short, thick filaments carpels usually 8, free, arranged in a single whorl. Flower peduncle size is 1.5–4 cm, tepals number range from seven to twelve, and are broadly elliptic to broadly ovate, anthers size is 1–1.5 mm, pollen grains trisyncolpate.  
The fruit is a capsule-like follicetum, star-shaped, reddish- brown, consisting of six to eight follicles arranged in a whorl.  Each follicle is boat-shaped, 1–2 cm long, rough and rigid, color reddish-brown, with 1 seed, opening along the ventral edge when ripe.  carpels size of 10 mm long, boat-shaped they are hard and wrinkled, containing one seed. Seeds are brown, compressed ovoid, smooth, shiny and brittle with approximate size of 8–9 mm × 6 mm.  
Differences with similar taxa: Illicium anisatum had smaller fruits that does not form a regular star due to the abortion of some carpels. Also fruit follicles are not swollen in the middle and had a more pointed apex. Also usually had more than 8 follicles and the fruit has weaker odour. The seeds in Illicium anisatum are flat or almost spherical.  
Culinary use Edit
Star anise contains anethole, the same compound that gives the unrelated anise its flavor. Recently, star anise has come into use in the West as a less expensive substitute for anise in baking, as well as in liquor production, most distinctively in the production of the liqueur Galliano.  Star anise enhances the flavour of meat. 
It is used as a spice in preparation of biryani and masala chai all over the Indian subcontinent. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisines. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also a major ingredient in the making of phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup.
It is also used in the French recipe of mulled wine, called vin chaud (hot wine). If allowed to steep in coffee, it deepens and enriches the flavor. The pods can be used in this manner multiple times by the pot-full or cup, as the ease of extraction of the taste components increases with the permeation of hot water.
Drug precursor Edit
Star anise is the major source of the chemical compound shikimic acid, a primary precursor in the pharmaceutical synthesis of the antiinfluenza drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu).    An industrial method for the production of shikimic acid using fermentation of E. coli bacteria was discovered in 2005,   and applied in the 2009 swine flu pandemic to address Tamiflu shortages, also causing price increases for star anise as a raw material of shikimic acid.  As of 2018, fermentation of E. coli was the manufacturing process of choice to produce shikimic acid for synthesis of Tamiflu.   Study shows Star Anise can be used as anti quorum sensing and anti-biofilm agent in food matrix. 
Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), a similar tree, is highly toxic and inedible in Japan, it has instead been burned as incense. Cases of illness, including "serious neurological effects, such as seizures", reported after using star anise tea, may be a result of deliberate economically motivated adulteration with this species. Japanese star anise contains the neurotoxin anisatin,  which also causes severe inflammation of the kidneys (nephritis), urinary tract, and digestive organs when ingested. 
Swamp star anise Illicium parviflorum is a similar tree found in the Southern United States, and due to its toxicity, it should not be used for folk remedies or as a cooking ingredient. 
Differentiation from other species Edit
Joshi et al. have used fluorescent microscopy and gas chromatography  to distinguish the species, while Lederer et al. employed thin layer chromatography with HPLC-MS/MS. 
Watch the video: HOW TO GROW ANISE PLANTS