Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Star Anise & Florida Anise

Illicium spp., Anise
submitted by Tom Palmer, Heartland Chapter

Florida has two native species of anise that look quite different and are found in very different regions of the state. Both bloom in spring.

Star Anise

Star Anise, Illicium parviflorum, Photo by Tom Palmer
The Yellow Anise Tree/Star  Anise, Illicium parviflorum, is found in hydric hammocks in a handful of Central Florida counties from Marion to Polk. It reportedly once occurred in Georgia, but has been extirpated. While classified as endangered in Florida, it is locally common in places such as the Marion Creek Basin in northeast Polk County.The type specimen was collected in 1799 in Marion County.


Star Anise grows to be a small tree, with inconspicuous greenish-yellow bell-shaped flowers. The common name refers to the yellow star-shaped seed pods.

Florida Anise

Florida Anise, Illicium floridanum, Photo by Tom Palmer

Florida Anise, Illicium floridanum, is found in slope forests,  creek forests and similar habitats throughout the Panhandle, such as the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines in Liberty County, as well as in parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The type specimen was discovered in 1765 in the Panhandle.

The flower of the Florida Anise trees are red, about 1.5" in diameter, and quite showy. When ripe, the shiny, jewel-like seeds burst out of papery star-shaped fruits.

While the leaves of both plants have a fragrance not unlike licorice, these plants are not the source of the anise spice used in some recipes and are, in fact, toxic.

Tom Palmer, a Lakeland Ledger reporter since 1980, retired in 2016. He has been referred to "as a walking encyclopedia of everything environmental." Palmer truly loves the outdoors and often spends weekends birding, searching for the exotic or cleaning trash from lakefronts and other areas. We are thankful to have Tom as a member of the Heartland Chapter of FNPS. 

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Additional links:

USF Plant Atlas: Illicium, spp.
Floridata: Illicium parviflorum
Floridata: Illicium floridanum
FNPS Native Plants for your area: Florida Anise
FNPS Native Plants for your area: Star Anise


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