Illicium verum Schisandraceae
Star Anise pods are a spice that closely resembles anise in flavor, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a small native evergreen tree of southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening. Star anise contains anethole, the same ingredient which 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 all over the Indian subcontinent. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisine. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also a major ingredient in the making of pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. In India it is used as an ingredient of masala chai. Star anise has been used in a tea as a remedy for rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion. 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. It should not be confused with Japanese star anise.
Japanese star anise or Shikimi (Illicium anisatum), a similar tree, different species, is not edible because it is highly toxic (due to containing anisatin); instead, it has been burned as incense in Japan. 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. Anisatin is an extremely toxic, insecticidally active component of the Shikimi plant. It is used in folk remedies topically in Japan, but is deadly when ingested. Symptoms begin to appear about 1-6 hours after ingestion, beginning with gastrointestinal ailments, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain, followed by nervous system excitation, seizures, loss of consciousness, and respiratory paralysis, which is the ultimate cause of death.
 International Organization for Standardization. “ISO 676:1995 Spices and condiments — Botanical nomenclature”. http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=4844.
 Joshi, Vaishali C. et al.; Ragone, S; Bruck, IS; Bernstein, JN; Duchowny, M; Peña, BM (2005). “Rapid and Easy Identification of Illicium verum Hook. f. and Its Adulterant Illicium anisatum Linn. by Fluorescent Microscopy and Gas Chromatography”. Journal of AOAC International (AOAC International) 88 (3): 703–706.
 Lederer, Ines et al.; Schulzki, G; Gross, J; Steffen, JP (2006). “Combination of TLC and HPLC-MS/MS Methods. Approach to a Rational Quality Control of Chinese Star Anise”. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (American Chemical Society) 54 (6): 1970–1974.