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anise (ănˈĭs), annual plant (Pimpinella anisum) of the family Umbelliferae (parsley family), native to the Mediterranean region but long cultivated elsewhere for its aromatic and medicinal qualities. It has flat-topped clusters of small yellow or white flowers that become seedlike fruits—the aniseed of commerce, used in food flavoring. Anise oil is derived from the seeds and sometimes from the leaves. The oil, composed chiefly of anethole, is used in medicinals, dentifrices, perfumes, beverages, and, in drag hunting, to scent a trail for dogs in the absence of a fox. The anise of the Bible (Mat. 23.23) is dill, a plant of the same family. Anisette is an anise-flavored liqueur.

Anise oil is also obtained from the fruit of the Chinese star anise (Illicium verum), an unrelated, slow-growing evergreen tree native to SE China and NE Vietnam that can reach 60 ft (18 m) in height. The unripe, anise-flavored, star-shaped fruit of the tree is used whole or ground in Asian cooking as spice and in traditional Asian medicine. A compound extracted from the fruit is used to make the anti-influenza drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu).

Anise is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Apiales, family Umbelliferae. Star anise is classified in the class Magnoliopsida, order Illiciales, family Illiciaceae.

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The wispy fern-like leaves are a good sign. Has licorice-type flavor. Aids digestion and clearing of mucus. A natural antacid for treatment of heartburn, indigestion, gas, bloating, colic, nausea. Helps with menstrual pain, asthma, coughing, bronchitis, sinus. Increases breast milk and helps with menopause, impotence and frigidity. Do not take while pregnant. Good as external treatment for lice. Flowers, seeds and leaves have a subtle licorice flavor. Seeds are a popular flavoring and spice, ground into food and drink. Taken as a digestive aid after meals in India. White flowers in umbrella clusters.
Edible Plant Guide © 2012 Markus Rothkranz
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Anisum), a herbaceous annual plant of the parsley family. The lower leaves of the anise plant are whole and orbicular-kidney-shaped, and the upper leaves are plumose. The flowers are white and the fruits are oval and difficult to remove. Two species are known to grow in the Mediterranean basin. In the USSR one species, Anisum vulgare (Pimpinella anisum), is known as a planted crop; it also grows wild. It is used as an essential oil plant and as medicine (in the form of tincture, anise oil, syrup, or an ammonia-anise drop which serves as an expectorant, laxative, and agent to improve the taste of other medicines). The taproot of anise penetrates 50 to 70 cm into the soil. The stalk is straight and is 25 to 60 cm tall. The lower leaves have long petioles, the middle leaves have short ones, and the upper leaves are sessile. The flowers are white and are gathered in complex umbels. The fruit has two seeds. The vegetative period lasts from 110 to 130 days. Anise originated in Asia Minor and is now cultivated in the countries of southern Europe, Asia, North Africa, and South America. In the USSR anise plantings are concentrated primarily in Belgorod Oblast. Dry anise fruits usually contain 2.2–3.2 percent essential oil and 18–20 percent fatty oil. The primary component of anise oil is anethole, from which anisaldehyde is obtained. The fatty oil is suitable for making soap. The fruit is used as a spice in the food industry, and by-products from its processing are used to feed livestock. The harvest is gathered when the seeds acquire a greenish gray coloring. The yield of seeds reaches 12 quintals per hectare.


Efiromaslkhnye kul’tury. Edited by A. A. Khotin and G. T. Shul’gin. Moscow, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The small fruit of the annual herb Pimpinella anisum in the family Umbelliferae; fruit is used for food flavoring, and oil is used in medicines, soaps, and cosmetics.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a Mediterranean umbelliferous plant, Pimpinella anisum, having clusters of small yellowish-white flowers and liquorice-flavoured seeds (see aniseed)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005