What Is Star Anise?
Star anise is a common weed found throughout many parts of the world. Its name comes from its resemblance to the flower of a nightshade plant. Nightshades are vegetables such as potatoes, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes which contain alkaloids (druglike substances) that have hallucinogenic properties. These drugs include opium, morphine and heroin among others.
The term “nightshade” was originally applied to the tomato family, but it is now used widely to refer to all members of this group. The word “anise” refers specifically to the species Anethum graveolens or Anisus pubescens.
This plant grows wild in Australia and New Zealand and is cultivated commercially in Europe. It has been grown for centuries in India, where it is known as khat.
Anise seeds are not edible and do not produce any oil when germinated. They will continue to sprout until they die back.
When the seedlings reach maturity, they begin to form small clusters called stigmas, which then develop into leaves and flowers. The flowers are white with pink centers, which are followed by a spikey pod containing numerous seeds. The pods can be eaten raw or cooked like an apple or orange.
Nowadays, the stigmas are rarely harvested because of the expense of labor and machinery involved. They are usually grown instead for their essential oil, which is used in the preparation of pharmaceuticals, keeping foods fresh, baking and candies.
They are also used in fish and chicken dishes. Anise also has many religious and cultural uses.
You can find anise growing wild in your yard or on the sidewalk cracks. It has a refreshing aroma and a sweet flavor.
The flower looks like a small white umbel. It is found all over the world in places with mild, dry climates.
Some people like to plant it in their yard and appreciate how easy it is to grow. It can also be used medicinally as a laxative, digestive aid and to relieve gas, colic, heartburn, flatulence and other stomach disorders.
It can also be used as a moth repellent.
Anise can also be used to make a seasoning for meats and fish, and in cakes, cookies and other deserts. It is considered more suitable for cooking than its relative, fennel.
Anise has been found in the tomb of the Egyptian King Tutankhamun, who died 3,000 years ago. This reflects its long history of human use as a medicinal plant and culinary spice.
Sources & references used in this article:
Reverse synthesis of star anise-like cobalt doped Cu-MOF/Cu 2+ 1 O hybrid materials based on a Cu (OH) 2 precursor for high performance supercapacitors by X Cao, L Cui, B Liu, Y Liu, D Jia, W Yang… – Journal of Materials …, 2019 – pubs.rsc.org
Liquid CO2 extraction of essential oil from star anise fruits (Illicium verum H.) by DQ Tuan, SG Ilangantileket – Journal of food Engineering, 1997 – Elsevier
Optimization and comparison of ultrasound-assisted extraction and microwave-assisted extraction of shikimic acid from Chinese star anise by M Cai, Y Luo, J Chen, H Liang, P Sun – Separation and Purification …, 2014 – Elsevier
Effects of star anise (Illicium verum Hook. f.), essential oil, and leavings on growth performance, serum, and liver antioxidant status of broiler chickens by X Ding, CW Yang, ZB Yang – Journal of Applied Poultry Research, 2017 – Elsevier
Rapid control of Chinese star anise fruits and teas for neurotoxic anisatin by direct analysis in real time high resolution mass spectrometry by Y Shen, TA Van Beek, FW Claassen, H Zuilhof… – Journal of …, 2012 – Elsevier
Determination of Essential Oil Components of Star Anise (Illicium verum) Using Simultaneous Hydrodistillation–Static Headspace Liquid-Phase Microextraction–Gas … by MB Gholivand, M Rahimi-Nasrabadi, H Chalabi – Analytical Letters, 2009 – Taylor & Francis