Illicuim verum

Botanical Name : Illicuim verum
Family: Schisandraceae
Genus: Illicium
Species: I. verum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Austrobaileyales

Synonyms: Chinese Anise. Aniseed Stars. Badiana.

Common Name :Star anise, Star aniseed, or Chinese star anise

Habitat : Illicuim verum is  native evergreen tree of northeast Vietnam and southwest China.It grows on light woodland and thickets. Forests at elevations of 200 – 1600 metres in S and W Guangxi Province, China.

Description:
Illicium verum is an evergreen Tree growing to 5 m (16ft) by 3 m (9ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Mar to May, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs.  CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES:

Cultivation:
Prefers a light, moist well-drained loam and a sheltered position Prefers a humus-rich lime-free soil. Succeeds in sun or semi-shade[200]. This species is not very cold-hardy, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c and requires a very sheltered position or the protection of a wall when grown in Britain. Chinese anise is extensively cultivated in China for its fruit and medicinal essential oil. It is planted in the grounds of temples in Japan, and also on tombs. Plants seldom grow larger than about 3 metres in Britain, but eventually reach about 18 metres tall in their native habitat.

Propagation:
Seed – it does not require pre-treatment and can be sown in early spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give some protection from the cold over the winter for the first year or two. Layering in early spring. Takes 18 months. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Pot up the cuttings when they start to root and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting out after the last expected frosts.

Edible Uses:
The fruit is used as a flavouring in curries, teas and pickles. It is an ingredient of ‘five spice powder’, used in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. The fruit is also chewed after meals in order to sweeten the breath. Caution is advised because it is said to be poisonous in quantity. The essential oil is used to flavour liqueurs, soft drinks and bakery products.Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also a major ingredient in the making of ph?, a Vietnamese noodle soup. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, and in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisines. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia.

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Star anise contains anethole, the same ingredient that gives the unrelated anise its flavor. Recently, star anise has come into use in the West as a less expensive substitute for anise in baking as well as in liquor production, most distinctively in the production of the liquor Galliano. It is also used in the production of sambuca, pastis, and many types of absinthe. Star anise enhances the flavour of meat. It is used as a spice in preparation of biryani and masala chai all over the Indian subcontinent.

Medicinal uses:
Star anise has been used in a tea as a traditional remedy for rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion.[citation needed] As a warm and moving herb, star anise is used to assist in relieving cold-stagnation in the middle jiao, according to traditional Chinese medicine.

Star anise is the major source of the chemical compound shikimic acid, a primary precursor in the pharmaceutical synthesis of anti-influenza drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Shikimic acid is produced by most autotrophic organisms, and whilst it can be obtained in commercial quantities from elsewhere, star anise remains the usual industrial source. In 2005, a temporary shortage of star anise was causedby its use in the production of Tamiflu. Later that year, a method for the production of shikimic acid using bacteria was discovered. Roche now derives some of the raw material it needs from the fermentation of E. coli bacteria. The 2009 swine flu outbreak led to another series of shortages as stocks of Tamiflu were built up around the world, sending prices soaring.

Star anise is grown in four provinces in China and harvested between March and May. It is also found in the south of New South Wales. The shikimic acid is extracted from the seeds in a 10-stage manufacturing process which takes a year.

Other Uses:
Essential;  Incense.

The pounded bark is used as an incense.

Known Hazards: Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), a similar tree, is highly toxic and inedible; in Japan, it has instead been burned as incense. Cases of illness, including “serious neurological effects, such as seizures”, reported after using star anise tea, may be a result of using this species. Japanese star anise contains anisatin, which causes severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract, and digestive organs. The toxicity of I. anisatum, also known as shikimi, is caused by its containing potent neurotoxins (anisatin, neoanisatin, and pseudoanisatin), due to their activity as noncompetitive antagonists of GABA receptors.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illicium_verum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Illicium+verum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/anise041.html

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