star anise

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see under aniseanise
, 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.
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Star Anise


or true anise (Illicium verum), a plant of the family Illiaceae (formerly classified in the family Mag-noliaceae). The tree reaches a height of 10 m and has leathery evergreen leaves. It grows in Indochina, southern China, and other parts of Southeast Asia. The flowers are bisexual, polypetalous, and single. The fruits are cyclical and mul-tileaved, containing an essential oil with a composition close to that of anise oil and containing up to 90 percent anethole. This oil is used in medicine, in liqueur and vodka distillation, and in the food industry. Another species of anise, Illicium anisatum (I. religiosum)—the so-called shikimi—grows and is often cultivated in Japan, Korea, and China. It has extremely poisonous fruit containing the alkaloid skimmianine which does not differ from the fruit of the true anise. Several other representatives of the genus lllicium (which has 42 species in all) have local importance as a source of essential oils.


Uphof, J. C. T. Dictionary of Economic Plants, 2nd ed. New York-London, 1968.


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