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or star anise
Illicium verum in HDR.jpg
fruits of star anise (Illicium verum)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Order: Austrobaileyales
Family: Schisandraceae
Genus: Illicium

Illicium is a genus of flowering plants treated as part of the family Schisandraceae,[1] or alternately as the sole genus of the Illiciaceae.[2] It has a disjunct distribution, with most species native to eastern Asia and several in parts of North America, including the southeastern United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean.[3] General common names include star anise[4] and anisetree.[1] The genus name comes from the Latin illicere ("to allure").[4]


Illicium species are evergreen shrubs and small trees; the leaves are alternately arranged and borne on petioles. The blades are glandular and fragrant; the flowers are solitary. They have few to many tepals in two or three rows, the inner ones like petals and the outer ones often smaller and more like bracts. A few to many stamens and pistils are at the center; the fruit is an aggregate of follicles arranged in a star-shaped whorl. One seed is in each follicle, released when the follicle dehisces; the seed has a thick, oily endosperm.[5]


These are plants of moist understory, adapted to shady habitat, and some species are so sensitive to light that too much sunlight causes them significant stress, manifesting in chlorosis and necrosis of the leaves.[6]


Several species are cultivated as ornamental plants for their flowers, foliage, and fragrance, leading to the development of several cultivars.[7] Many taxa can only be grown in low-light situations.[6]

The essential oils of several species are used as flavorings and carminatives; however, the oils of I. anisatum and I. floridanum are toxic. I. verum, the common star anise, is used to flavor food and wine. Its fruit is a traditional Chinese medicine called pa-chio-hui-hsiang, which is used to treat abdominal pain and vomiting.[5]


Species include


  1. ^ a b Illicium. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
  2. ^ Watson, L. and M. J. Dallwitz. 1992 onwards. Illiciaceae Van Tiegh. The Families of Flowering Plants. Version: 19 August 2013.
  3. ^ Oh, I. C., et al. (2003). Evolution of Illicium (Illiciaceae): mapping morphological characters on the molecular tree. Plant Systematics and Evolution 240(1-4), 175-209.
  4. ^ a b Illicium. Flora of North America.
  5. ^ a b Illiciaceae. Flora of North America.
  6. ^ a b Griffin, J. J., et al. (2004). Photosynthesis, chlorophyll fluorescence, and carbohydrate content of Illicium taxa grown under varied irradiance. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 129(1), 46-53.
  7. ^ Ashburn, D. Illicium belongs in Southern gardens. Archived 2013-09-08 at the Wayback Machine Cooperative Extension. North Carolina State University. 2006.
  8. ^ The Plant List, search for Illicium
  9. ^ GRIN Species Records of Illicium. Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN)
  10. ^, retrieved 3 September 2015
  11. ^ Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution map, Illicium floridanum
  12. ^ Biota of North America Program, 2013 county distribution map, Illicium parviflorum

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