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.
Annual herb (Pimpinella anisum) of the parsley family, cultivated chiefly for its fruit, called aniseed, which tastes like licorice. Native to Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean region, anise is cultivated throughout the world. Aniseed is used as a flavouring and as a soothing herbal tea. Star anise is the dried fruit of the evergreen tree Illicium verum (magnolia family), native to southeastern China and Vietnam. Its flavour and uses are similar to those of anise.
Learn more about anise with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Anise or Aniseed, less commonly anís (stressed on the second syllable) (Pimpinella anisum), is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native to the eastern Mediterranean region and southwest Asia. It is an herbaceous annual plant growing to 3 ft (1 m) tall. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, 0.5 in - 2 in (2 - 5 cm) long and shallowly lobed, while leaves higher on the stems are feathery pinnate, divided into numerous leafs. The flowers are white, approximately 3 mm diameter, produced in dense umbels. The fruit is an oblong dry schizocarp, 3 - 5 mm long. It is these seedpods that are referred to as aniseed rather than what the name suggests.
Best growth is in light, fertile, well drained soil. Start plants from seeds as soon as the ground warms up in spring. Because plants have a tap root they do not transplant well after established, so start them where they are to grow, or transplant while seedlings are still small.
Containing liquorice-like components anise is sweet and very aromatic. It is used to make the following confectioneries: Aniseed balls (Britain), Humbugs (Australia), Aniseed wheels (New Zealand), pizzelles (Italy), pfeffernusse (Germany), and knotts (Norway). Aniseed is also used to make the Mexican drink "atole de anís" or champurrado which is similar to hot chocolate, the Turkish drink Raki (alcoholic beverage),the Greek Ouzo, the Italian Sambuca, the spirit absinthe, the favourite for Arabic Arak, some root beer such as Virgil's Root Beer in the United States and as a digestive after meals in India. It also is used to make the dough, when preparing the famous Peruvian dessert "Picarones." In Colombia, it is also used to add to the national drink aguardiente, in which, depending on the region, more or less anise gives the typical drink its distinctive flavor.
Anise can be made into a liquid scent and is used for both hunting and fishing. Anise smells similar to liquorice and is put on fishing lures to attract fish. Anethole, the principal component of anise oil, is a precursor that can eventually produce 2,5-dimethoxybenzaldehyde which is used in the clandestine synthesis of psychedelic drugs such as 2C-B, 2C-I and DOB. Anise is also the main flavor of absinthe as well as being used as a flavoring for pastis, ouzo, pernod, sambuca, rakı, Becherovka, anice tutone, Chartreuse and other liqueurs. Anise has a particular effect on some dogs that parallels the effect of catnip on house cats. Some cats as well seem attracted to anise. Anise is perfectly safe for cats and dogs alike to ingest.