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Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a native of the Near East which was used by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans and was grown across most of Europe by the Middle Ages. It was later introduced also into Asia and the New World. The small, hard, grayish brown fruits are rich in an essential oil (up to 3.5%), the main constituent of which is anethole. The tiny fruits (and the oil prepared from them) have a range of uses, e.g., in Indian and European cuisine, confections, and drinks (e.g., French pastis, Greek arak, Basque Patxaran, and anisette, among others; Anli and Bayram 2010).

Anise is a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae=Umbelliferae). It is an annual 60 to 70 cm in height. The lower leaves are heart-shaped, but the upper ones are divided. The small white flowers are borne in compound umbels.

Star Anise (Illicium verum) is sometimes used as a substitute for true Anise. Star Anise, which is cultivated in Southeast Asia, is a member of a different family (the magnolia family, Magnoliaceae), but contains an essential oil similar to that found in true Anise.

(Vaughan and Geissler 1997)


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