284 Illicium floridanumCommon Names: Florida anise, purple anise, stink-bush, star-anise Family: Illiciaceae (illicium Family)
Florida anise is a broad-leaved evergreen shrub or small tree with a compact stature and a maximum height of 10 ft (3 m). The leaves are leathery, smooth and shiny, 2-6 in (5-15 cm) long and an inch or two wide. When crushed, they emit a characteristic anise-like odor, obnoxious to some, but pleasant to others. The flowers, about 2 in (5 cm) in diameter with 20-30 slender maroon petals, are attractive but tend to be overlooked in the lush shiny foliage. The flowers also have a peculiar odor - like that of a live fish! When ripe, the shiny, jewel-like seeds literally explode out of the papery star-shaped fruits. Several cultivars, including one with white flowers, are available.
Florida anise, Illicium floridanum, occurs in moist wooded ravines and steep-heads from the Florida panhandle to southeastern Louisiana.
CultureLight: Grows in partial shade to full shade, but reportedly can be acclimated to full sun (if well watered). Moisture: Tolerates moist soil; should be mulched and watered during prolonged dry spells as it has a tendency to wilt. Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 - 10. Propagation: By seed or cuttings.
With its shiny evergreen leaves, single trunk and reaching no more than 10 ft (3 m) in height, Florida anise is a pretty little tree. It can be planted in full shade or sun, and requires almost no maintenance. Plant it where you want a splash of luxuriant green foliage all year long as you might a gardenia or small camellia.
Florida anise is protected by the state of Florida as a threatened species. Nevertheless, it is available from several native plant nurseries in Florida that have permits to sell listed species. The closely related star-anise (I. verum) from China and Vietnam is the source of a culinary spice and reportedly has medicinal uses. There's another member of the genus that is native to Florida called yellow anise I. parviflorum which is a popular landscaping shrub, especially for use as hedges.
This plant is toxic! Do not ingest. It is not a substitute for the culinary spice and flavorings obtained from Illicium verum.
Steve Christman 08/27/97, updated: js 4/27/99, 3/29/01, 9/9/03