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Star Anise – Illicium verum  

Anise is a flowering plant in the Illicitacae family, originating from southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region. It is a medium sized evergreen tree -which can grow to 8m tall. The flower head of Anise is umbrella – shaped, the individual flowers are borne on short stems arising from the top of a main stem.

 The leaves that grow at the base of the plant are simple, 2-5 cm long and have shallow lobes, whilst the higher leaves on the stems are quite feathery in appearance. The fruit is a dry fruit that splits into individually seeded parts when ripe.

The fruit of this small oriental plant is the Star Anise, as the name suggests, it is star shaped with five to ten pointed boat- shaped sections, and the individual sections are seed pods.  They have a tough skin which is rust coloured and measure up to 3 cm long. The fruit is picked before it can ripen and then dried.

Star Anise seedThe Anise is one of the fragrant herbs that grow quite well from seed sown in early spring. Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep after frosts are over - spacing the seeds about cm apart with the rows being 45cm apart.

Soil should be light and well drained, choose a sunny, protected spot and water well in dry weather. The leaves can be harvested when the plants are large enough.

The seeds can be gathered 1 month after the blooms fade. Be sure to collect the seeds from the plant before they fall to the ground.


This herb Anise of Aniseed has been used for centuries best known for its flavouring in cooking, is a wonderful herb to both prevent and treat gas cramping in the digestive tract.

Because of its soothing properties, Anise is useful for nausea, belching, colic and bloating. It is also of value in treating colds, coughs, flu, and even bronchitis, whooping cough and asthma. Anise helps to increase the heat of the body enabling the immune system to fight off infections.

Culinary Uses

The whole star can be added directly to the cooking pot, alternatively grind whole or segment. Small amounts need only to be used as this is a powerful spice. Star Anise is used to sweeten meat and confectionery, where sweeteners are required. In Chinese cooking, where the ingredients are simmered for a long period in dark soy sauce, Star Anise is nearly always added to beef and chicken dishes. Stocks and soups often contain this spice. Chew the whole fruit regular as an after meal digestant and breath sweetener. In the West Star Anise is added to fruit jams and compotes. The Anise leaves are used to flavour many recipes and also for Aniseed tea which helps for those suffering from catarrh. Recipes with Star Anise

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