Star Anise Tree is a small to medium, rounded, evergreen tree with glossy foliage. Flowers are small and greenish white to pink or purple with a central boss of stamens which are followed by aromatic seed pods that open out into a star shape when ripe. The essential oil and the ground spice, star anise, are extracted from the brown pods and the seeds. The oil primarily contains anethole.
Anise is easy to grow. They prefer full sun and a well drained soil. They will do well in average soils, and tolerate dry soil conditions. Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Add a general purpose fertilizer once or twice a season.
Harvest flower heads after seeds have formed, and the flower head has died. Extract seeds and dry them in a cool, dry location.
Chinese star anise is an essential ingredient in five spice powder, widely used with duck, chicken and pork in Chinese cooking; in garam masala, a spice mix from Indian cuisine; as well as in the cooking of Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. In Europe it is used in several popular liqueurs and aperitifs, including pastis, absinthe, anisette and, reputedly, Sambuca and Galliano. It shares with the completely unrelated herb anise the substance anethole, which gives it a strong aniseed flavour. The tree is a small evergreen from southern China and Vietnam with attractive ivory, star-shaped flowers.