From ArticleWorld

The herb Anise (pronounced as in Janice or, more seldom, “a niece”), botanically Pimpinella anisum, belongs to the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family.

Origin and spread

It is native of Egypt, Greece, Crete and Asia Minor. It was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and was mentioned by Dioscorides and Pliny. During the Middle Ages it spread to Central Europe and today it is commercially grown in Russia, Central and Southern Europe, North Africa and Mexico.


Anise is an annual herb. It is related to coriander, carrot, cumin, parsley and dill, for examples. The cultivated plant is much larger than the wild one, growing to around 45 centimeters high. Its smell and taste is strong and sweet.


The most used part of the herb is the seed-like fruit, called aniseed. But all above-ground parts are edible as a vegetable. It has a very distinct, powerful and aromatic smell and taste. It is used in breads, cakes, candies, liqueurs and also in some food, like curries, sea-food dishes and soups.

From the seed a volatile or essential oil is produced, by distillation, which is preferred over the aniseed, since the aniseed can be a bit unsightly sometimes. Circa 90 per cent of the oil consists of anethole, an ingredient also found in Star Anise oil. But Star Anise (Illicium verum), a native evergreen tree of China, is not related to Anise. Star Anise oil is a common substitute to real Anise oil.

The medical uses of Anise are many; it is said to be antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, increasing lactation in nursing mothers, a stimulant and stomachic. Amongst the mentioned uses for Anise oil, we may find some controversial ones, such as, good bait for mice and averting the evil eye. Anise oil is included in the Paregoric Elixir, which is often prescribed as a sedative by medical practitioners and in cough medicines and lozenges. Excessive intake, though, may cause nausea, vomiting, pulmonary oedema and seizures. Aniseed tea is a good cure to infantile catarrh, flatulency and colic. It is made by pouring hot water over crushed Aniseed, and then sipped slowly after it has cooled down.