Illicium verum, commonly known as star anise, is a tree likely native to China and is also cultivated in other parts of Asia. It gets its name from its star-shaped fruit, which is formed by the eight-pointed seed follicles. The spice has a strong, licorice-like flavor and a sweet, aromatic scent. Star anise is widely used in Asian cuisines, particularly in Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. Beyond its culinary uses, star anise is known for its medicinal properties. It is only known from cultivation, although semi-wild populations of abandoned plantations occur. Due to its long history of cultivation with no reports of negative impacts, it is unlikely to pose an invasion risk in the Hawaiian Islands or other tropical island ecosystems.
High Risk Traits:
- Thrives and could potentially spread in regions with tropical climates.
- Possibly naturalized or semi-wild within natural range (native range unclear due to long history of cultivation).
- May be allelopathic.
- Unpalatable to deer and likely other browsing animals.
- Tolerates many soil types.
- Shade tolerant when young (could establish in intact forest understory).
- Reproduces by seeds.
- Seeds dispersed by ballistic dispersal and through intentional cultivation.
Low Risk Traits:
- Only known from cultivation although semi-wild populations of abandoned plantations occur (no confirmed reports of naturalization or invasiveness)
- Unarmed (no spines, thorns, or burrs)
- Non-toxic (although beware of toxic Japanese star anise - Illicium anisatum)
- Not reported to spread vegetatively
- Reaches maturity in 6+ years.
- Seeds lose viability rapidly (and are unlikely to form a persistent seed bank).