Family: Schisandraceae | Genus: ILLICIUM
type : Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees
sun exposure : Partial Shade, Full Shade
water : Ample Water
planting zones : MS (Middle South) / Zone 7, LS (Lower South) / Zone 8, CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9
Plant Details

Little-used but attractive clan of shrubs or small trees noted for both foliage and flowers. Thick, leathery, glossy leaves are anise-scented when crushed; spring flowers have many petal-like segments and are reminiscent of small magnolia blossoms. Fruit that follows are small, one-sided pods arranged in a ring. The star anise of Chinese cookery is the fruit of the tropical tree Illicium verum, apparently not grown in North America. All like rich soil with abundant organic material. Big, bold foliage gives the impression of rhododendrons. Good understory plants for woodland gardens; also useful for screening. Seldom need pruning. Unappealing to deer.

japanese anise

illicium anisatum

  • Native to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan.
  • To 610 feet (possibly 15 feet.) tall, 68 feet wide; conical growth habit.
  • Oval to lance-shaped, blunt-tipped, glossy leaves to 5 inches long, 2 inches wide are held perpendicular to the stems.
  • Inch-wide, scentless flowers on short, nodding stalks cluster in leaf axils; they open yellowish green, then fade to creamy white.
  • Much planted in Buddhist cemeteries; cut branches are used to decorate graves.
  • Highly fragrant wood is used for incense.

florida anise

illicium floridanum

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Native Florida to Louisiana.
  • Reaches 610 feet or taller, equally wide.
  • Pointed oval leaves 6 inches long and 2 inches wide, with prominent midribs.
  • Waxy, nodding, maroon flowers 12 inches across on 112- to 2 inches-long stalks; most people find scent unpleasant.
  • Illicium f.
  • album is white flowered.
  • Halleys Comet' is more compact, with larger, redder flowers than the species; often blooms into fall.
  • Variegatum has maroon- purple flowers with subtle green-on-green leaf variegation.
  • Each leaf of vigorous 'Pink Frost' is edged in cream; entire leaf turns pink in fall.
  • Shady Lady has leaves edged in white; its flowers are soft pink.
  • Woodland Ruby is a hybrid with ruby-pink, 2 inches flowers shaped like starfish; flowering period extends through summer.

mexican anise

illicium mexicanum

  • Shrub.
  • Native to northern Mexico.
  • Grows 48 feet tall and nearly as wide, with narrowly oval, pointed, medium-green leaves held on red stems.
  • Fragrant, reddish pink flowers to 2 inches across are produced mainly in spring, with some repeat bloom through summer.
  • Aztec Fire has larger flowers held on longer stems and thus further out from the foliage, making for a showier plant in bloom.

yellow anise

illicium parviflorum

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Native to Florida.
  • Grows 1520 feet tall, 1015 feet wide, with 4 inches., oblong, olive-green leaves and 12 inches yellow-green flowers.
  • Can form small colonies by suckering.
  • More tolerant of sun and dry soil than other anise trees, but equally at home in damp shade.
  • Florida Sunshine is vigorous and compact, reaching 68 feet tall and 46 feet wide; its leaves are chartreuse to golden, shading to bright yellow with cooler weather.

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