Illicium verum

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Local names:
Danish (Stjerneanis,Stjerne Anis), Dutch (Steranijs,Adas china), English (star anise), French (badiane,anis de la Chine), German (Sternanis,Badian), Hindi (Anasphal,Badayan), Indonesian (bunga lawang,Adas cina,Pe ka), Italian (Anice stellato), Khmer (Phk

Illicium verum is an evergreen medium sized tree, 8-15 (-20) m tall and up to 30 cm dbh with a straight rounded trunk and green, glabrous branchlets. The bark is white to bright grey.

Leaves 6-12 cm long, alternate, simple, leathery, often clustered 3-4 together at the end of branches

Flowers large, bisexual, 1-1.5 cm in diameter, white-pink to red or greenish-yellow, axillary and solitary.

Fruit capsule-like, aggregate fruit made up of 6-8 or rarely up to 12-13 boat-shaped, rather woody follicles with a straight beak. Each follicle contains one seed

Seed shiny brown or reddish with high oil content and anise-like smell.


The genus name is derived from Latin ‘illicere’ (allure), probably because of the sweet and attractive fragrance.

Ecology

I. verum is a light demander but tolerates shade when young. It should not be planted on soils generated from limestone; deep ravine where light is insufficient, moisture is too much; area in which dominant species are Imperata cylindrica and bushes such as Artemisia annua, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, Melastioma candidum indicators of much deteriorated soil.

Native range
China, Vietnam

Tree management

Pure plantation of I. verum can be established by planting seedling with a spacing of 4 x 5 m. This gives a density of 420 stems/ha as a final crop. When planted mixed with other species such as Camellia oleifera, Canarium album, Mandarin and Tea, rows spacing of 3-4m is used, and the remaining density of about 150-200 trees/ha is expected. This mixed planting is commonly used in Vietnam, creating sustainable forest environment in such areas.

Fruits are harvested directly from the tree when they are still green, dried first in the shade and then in the sun. The fruits are collected in October when they turn brown but before they open. After a short sun drying, the seeds are extracted manually. Dead or damaged seed can be separated from fresh seed by floatation. A mature tree may yield 8-12 kg fresh fruits per season. 4-5 kg fresh fruits give approximately 1 kg dry fruits.

Studies from Vietnam indicate that the seeds do not tolerate desiccation and that best viability is achieved when the seeds are stored at about 40% moisture content. When dried below 30% mc, the seeds begin to lose viability. Cold storage at 5 or 10° C is significantly better than at room temperature. In another study, fresh seeds mixed with moist sand and stored at 10° C for 3 months retained 53% germination. There are 8000 - 11000 seeds per kg.

I. verum is a light demander but tolerates shade when young. It should not be planted on soils generated from limestone; deep ravine where light is insufficient, moisture is too much; area in which dominant species are Imperata cylindrica and bushes such as Artemisia annua, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, Melastioma candidum indicators of much deteriorated soil.

I. verum is usually propagated by seeds, cuttings and grafting. The newly harvested seeds have a germination rate of 40%, compared to 80% exhibited after one month’s storage in moist sand, probably due to after-ripening or some sort of dormancy. Germination normally begins after 27 days, continuing for over 2 months. Seeds collected during the September - October harvest season are preferred for propagation. The seedlings are planted out into the field when they attain a height of about 30 cm.

It is widely planted in areas for rehabilitation

Erosion control: I. verum is a perennial tree species with good effects on soil and water conservation. 

 Fruits and seeds are valued as a spice used in cooking.

Timber: The fragrant wood is used for construction and furniture.

Medicine: The oil of star anise is used worldwide in medicine. It is used as stimulant, eupeptic, carminative, mildly expectorant and diuretic. It is found to be useful in flatulence, spasmodic pains and dysentery. It relieves colic and is a common ingredient of cough lozenges and cattle sprays. The oil is employed as an applicant in rheumatism, as an antiseptic, useful against fevers, scabies, body lice, bedbugs, and highly useful in constipation and insomnia.

Intercropping: It can be planted mixed with some other tree species such as Canarium album, Mandarin and Tea

Essential oil: Star anise is mainly grown for the essential oil that is extracted from fruits, seeds and leaves. 10 kg of dry fruits yield 1 kg oil. The dried fruits may contain 5 to 8% of essential oil, which dominated by anethole (85 to 90%). The other