Illicium anisatum

Scientific name: Illicium anisatum L.

Author: Sieb. et Zucc.

Common name: Sikimi noki, Sacred anisetree, Japanese star-anise

Family: Illiciaceae (Magnoliaceae)


Illicium anisatum   


For your enjoyment a neat, conical shrub of Illicium anisatum, native to Japan and Taiwan, has recently been moved from the Terrace Garden, where it could not easily be seen, to the recently renovated Car Park Bed 46 between the Entry Booth and the Kiosk.

Allurement is expressed in Latin by the word illicium. In the plant world it is used to describe a genus of about forty species, all attractively fragrant and commonly referred to as Anise Trees. The most famous is Illicium verum, the Star Anise from China and Vietnam, the fruits of which are extensively used as a spice ingredient in Asian Cooking.

This plantís requirements of fertile, well-drained but moisture retentive soil, adequate water in the growing season and a sunny to semi-shade location have been well met since it was originally planted in 1990. Our plant of the week is therefore, naturally slow-growing, none-the-less rewarding us each Winter with a profusion of creamy-green, non-scented flowers.

The fruits of Illicium anisatum should not be substituted for star anise in cooking as they are considered to be toxic. Research continues on possible uses of this plantís essential oils in applications such as insecticides. The powdered bark has long been used in Japan as an incense component and the aromatic leaves adorn tombs and temples.

There is only one genus, Illicium, in the ancient, flowering-plant family Illiciaceae. Illicium species have been included in the Magnoliaceae family in the past and are thought to be more closely allied to the Winteraceae family (also once part of Magnoliaceae) that includes the Australian Pepperbushes, Tasmannia species, the New Zealand Pepperbushes, Pseudowintera species, and the South American Winterís Bark, Drimys winteri. Examples of these genera are grown at Mount Tomah to illustrate the plant links these southern hemisphere countries have to the ancient super-continent of Gondwana. By comparison, Illicium floridum, The Florida Anise Tree or Purple Anise, hailing from swampy sites between Florida and Louisiana, can also be found on display in our Garden.