The herb Star Anise is the little egg-shaped
fruits in the plants. The fruits are dried when semi-ripe. The
taste of the herb is liquorice in flavour and it is very pungent.
Currently Star Anise is a native of Southern China
and Vietnam. However only the Chinese variety is useful in the
treatment of Bird Flu. It is best suited to tropical conditions.
The Latin name for Star Anise is Illicium verum,
an evergreen tree of the Magnoliaceae family.
Note that Star Anise is similar to Anise but not the
same. Star Anise has a much stronger liquorice flavour compared to
anise. Kings can be quoted as follows on the medicinal uses of Star
Anise. "Both the seeds and oil of star-anise possess the stimulant,
diuretic, carminative, and slightly anodyne properties of anise.
Locally applied and internally administered, they have been used for
abdominal pains, particularly when associated with flatus, and in
bronchitis, and locally alone in earache and rheumatic complaints. Oil
of star-anise is largely employed to impart a flavour to spirits,
especially in France, Germany and Italy."
Star Anise was introduced into Europe
in the 17th Century where it was used in baked goods and in the making
of fruit jams. More famously it was used as one of the main
flavourings of the liqueurs Pernod an Anisette.
The Star Anise tree grows to about 2.5 m tall (8 foot)
and grows best in an acid soil. The soil should also be
water-retentive because Star Anise does not tolerate shortage of water
well. Unusually, the tree takes about six years before it begins to
bear fruit but it does survive into very old age for such a small
tree, in some cases over 100 years.
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