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Star Anise (Illicium verum Hooker fil.)


pharmaceuticalFructus Anisi stellati
Arabicينسون نجمي
يانْسُون نَجْمِي
Yansun najmi, Yansoon najmee
BretonAniz steredenne
BulgarianАнасон звездовиден
Anason zvezdoviden
CatalanAnís estrellat
八角 [baat gok]
Baat gok
八角 [bā jiǎo]
Ba jiao
CroatianZvjezdasti anis
CzechBadyán, Badyáník, Hvězdicový anýz, Čínský anýz
DanishStjerne Anis, Stjerneanis
EnglishIndian anise, Chinese anise, Badian anise
EsperantoIlicio, Stelanizo
EstonianHarilik tähtaniisipuu, Tähtaniis
FinnishTähtianis, Rusotähtianis
FrenchAnis étoilé, Anis de la Chine, Badiane
GalicianAnis Estrelado
GermanSternanis, Badian
GreekΆνισον αστεροειδές, Γλυκάνισο αστεροειδές
Anison asteroeides, Glikaniso asteroeides
Hebrewאניס סטאר
Anis star
Hindiसौंफ का पौधा, अनास्फल, बादयान, तारा सौंफ, कक्कोला, चक्र फूल
Badayan, Anasphal, Kakkola, Saumph ka paudha, Badayan, Tara saumf, Chakra Phul
HungarianCsillagánizs, Kínai ánizs
IndonesianBunga lawang, Adas cina, Pe ka, Pekak, Kembang lawang
ItalianAnice stellato
だいういきょう, とうしきみ
ダイウイキョウ, ハッカク, スターアニス, トウシキミ
Daiuikyō, Daiuikyo, Hakkaku, Suta-anisu, Tōshikimi, Toshikimi
KhmerPhka cann, Poch kak lavhak, Chan kari
Korean아니스스타, 대회향, 에니스타, 오향, 스타아니스, 스타아니씨드
Anisu-suta, Tae-hoehyang, Eni-suta, Ohyang, Suta-anusu, Suta-anissidu
LithuanianŽvaigždanyžiai, Badiajonas, Kinijos anyžius, Tikrasis žvaigždanyžis
MalayBunga lawang, Adas china
Nepaliस्तार फुल
Star phul
PolishAnyż gwiazdkowaty, Badian
PortugueseAnis estrelado
RomanianAnason stelat, Badian
RussianБадьян, Звездчатый анис
Badyan, Zvezdchatyj anis
SerbianЗвездасти анис
Zvezdasti anis
Sinhalaබුරියානි මල්, බුරියානිමල්
Buriyani Mal
SlovakBadián, Hviezdicový aníz, Anízovec pravý, Bedrovník anízový, Badyán
SlovenianZvezdasti janež
SpanishBadián, Badiana, Anís estrella
TagalogSanque, Anis, Sanke
Tamilஅன்னாசீ பூ, பதீயன்
Annasi pu, Padiyan
Thaiจันทน์แปดกลีบ, โป๊ยกั๊ก
Chan paetklip, Poy kak bua, Poikak
TurkishÇin anasonu, Yıldız anasonu
VietnameseBát giác hương, Cái hồi, Hồi, Hồi hương, Đại hồi
Bat giac huong, Cai hoi, Hoi, Hoi huong, Dai hoi
Yiddishבאַדיאַן, שטערן־ענעס
Badyan, Stern-enes
Illicium verum: Dried star anis pods
Dried star anise fruits
Illicium verum: Twelve-pointed star anis pod
Twelve pointed star anise fruits
Used plant part

The character­istically shaped fruits (pods), always used in dried state. They are harvested before ripeness and dried to a rusty brown color. Besides the regular eight-pointed shape, one rarely finds single specimen with a larger number of carpels.

The essential oil resides in the pericarp, not in the seed.

Plant family

Illiciaceae. This family is closely related to the magnolia family (Magnoliaceae).

Sensory quality

Like anise, but stronger: Warm, sweet, aromatic. An overview on spices similar to anise is given under cicely.

For other sweet spices, see licorice.

Illicium verum: Star anis flower
Star anise flower         © Thomas Stützel

Main constitu­ents

The dried fruits may contain 5 to 8% of essential oil, which domi­nated by anethole (85 to 90%). The other com­ponents, methylchavicol, phell­andrene, linalool, safrole and terpineol, have only small effect on the aroma. Traces of 1,4 cineol can be used to distinguish star anise from anise, which (like most other spices) is free of this compound.


Southern China and Vietnam. The plant is not known in the wild state.

Most imports come from China, but the spice is also planted in Laos, on the Philippines and even in Jamaica.


The Chinese names of star anise, Cantonese bat gok and Mandarin ba jiao [八角] both mean eight corners, octagon and allude to the eight-pointed shape of star anise fruits (eight corner spice). In Chinese herbal medicine, star anise is known as ba jiao hui xiang [八角茴香] eight-cornered fennel.

Chinese 大茴香 (pronounced daai wuih heong in Cantonese and da hui xiang in Mandarin) big fennel denotes anise, not star anise. Nevertheless, the same Kanji in Japanese (pronounced daiuikyō [だいういきょう]) mean star anise! Even more surprising, the corresponding Korean name taehoihyang [대회향] usually means star anise, but can also be applied to nigella.

English badian anise and related names in other European tongues (Spanish badián, Latvian badjans, Macedonian badijan [бадијан], and Russian badyan [бадьян]) are derived from the Persian name of star anise, badiyan [بادیان], whose origin is not clearly known to me; yet it might be an adaption of Chinese ba jiao. English, and probably in other languages also, badian sounds archaic and obsolete; it is found only in historical recipes, not in contemporary cookbooks.

Because of its extreme olfactory similarity to anise, star anise is named after anise in many European countries. Quite often, a name for star anise if formed by combining the local name for anise with an epithet referring to the Asian origin or the characteristic star-like shape, e. g., Turkish çin anason and French anis de la Chine China-Anise and Estonian tähtaniis, Polish anyż gwiazdkowaty and Italian anice stellato, all meaning starlike anise. In the opposite way, European anise is known as hat hoi [hạt hồi] grain-shaped star anise in Vietnam and as badiyan romi [بادیان رومی] Roman star anise in Iran. The Kashmiri name badian [بادیان] rather surprisingly denotes another similar spice, fennel.

The genus name Illicium is derived from Latin illicere allure, probably because of the sweet and attractive fragrance.

Selected Links

Indian Spices: Star Anise ( Ilkas und Ullis Kochecke: Sternanis ( via The Epicentre: Star Anise Anethol Transport Information Service: Star anise Anise Tree (False Star Anise, Shikimi, Illicium anisatum) Rezept bei Rotgeschmorter Schweinebauch (Hong-shao rou [红烧肉]) Rezept von Chinesisches Fünf-Gewürze-Pulver (wu xiang fen [五香粉]) Recipe: wu hua rou [五花肉] (Five-Flower Meat) ( Rezept: Pekingente (beijing kao ya [北京烤鸭]) ( About Beijing Roast Duck ( Recipe: Peking duck (beijing kao ya [北京烤鸭]) ( Recipe: Cha dam yen [ชาดำเย็น] (Thai Iced Tea) (

Illicium verum: Star anis with flowers
Star anise twig with flowers   © Gerald Carr

The eight-pointed star-shaped pods of star anise are a popular spice in China. Chinese cookery is a quite complex matter and one of the oldest cooking traditions of the world.

Within this huge and heterogeneous country, a multitude of techniques for cooking, cutting and flavouring has been developed; yet spices play a less important part than in the cuisines of China’s southern neighbours. Common to all regional styles is the aim to create a harmonic balance between what is called the basic taste impressions (wei []): sweet (tian [] or gan []), sour (suan []), salty (xian []) and pungent (la []); of lesser importance is the bitter flavour (ku []), which is considered related to the numbing flavour of Sichuan pepper (ma []). In all other respects, regional styles differ greatly from each other.

Stir-frying (chao or chow []), which is the dominating cooking technique in Chinese restaurants of the Western Hemisphere (see ginger for an example) is but one of the numerous cooking techniques in China, and it is most characteristic of the mild Cantonese style (Guangzhou [广州, 廣州] style) of cooking. Less often found in Chinese restaurants are the following two culinary styles: The rather more sweet Shanghai [上海] style is particularly known for the technique of red braising (see cassia), for which star anise is an indispensable spice. The Northern Beijing [北京] style, where rice gives way to wheat as the staple food, often prefers dry dishes which are not cooked in sauce; Beijing duck (beijing kao ya [北京烤鸭]) is a prime example. Last, the hot Sichuan [四川] style must be mentioned; today, it is highly popular all over China. In the fertile Sichuan province, people flavour their food with chiles (often in form of hot bean paste) and the indigenous Sichuan pepper; yet Sichuanese cooks make also use of orange peel, licorice, black cardamom and even local medical plants. A similar and also very spicy cuisine is found in the neighbouring Yunnan [云南, 雲南] province, which in the culinary regime is best known for its overfermented aged red tea (pu er cha [普洱茶]). Some other provinces also boast of a hot and spicy, yet unrelated, cuisine, e. g., Hunan [湖南] and Guizhou [贵州].

All over China, five spice powder (Mandarin wu xiang fen [五香粉], Cantonese ngh heung fan [五香粉], according to dubious sources also hung-liu) is known and valued. This spice mixture contains star anise, cassia (or cinnamon), cloves, fennel and Sichuan pepper usually to equal parts. Optionally, ginger, galanga (or more commonly lesser galanga), black cardamom or even liquorice may be added. These spices should be kept whole and powdered before usage.

Illicium verum: Star anis flower
Star anise flower   © Gerald Carr

Five spice powder is often added to a batter made from egg white and cornstarch, which is used to coat meats and vegetables to keep them moisty and succulent during deep-frying. Meat is also frequently coated with a mixture of corn starch and five spice powder and deep-fried. Lastly, it is often contained in marinades for meat to be stir-fried. Since the mixture is very aromatic, it should be used with care.

The subtle aroma of five spice powder is particularly effective in steamed foods. Steamed pork belly can indeed be a delicacy, even if it is, of course, never low in fat. For this recipe, the so-called five-flower cut is used that consists of three fatty and two lean layers. The meat is marinated in soy sauce and garlic, coated by a mixture of five-spice powder and ground, toasted rice and steamed until very tender (wu hua rou [五花肉]). This pork dish is very mild, but highly aromatic and pleasing. For more examples of star anise in Chinese cookery, see orange about the Sichuan-style beef stew au larm and cassia about master sauce.

Outside China, star anise is less valued. In the North of Vietnam, it is popular for beef soups (see Vietnamese cinnamon). Star anise is also used in Thailand: In the North, it is often employed in long-simmered stews; elsewhere, especially in the tropical South, it is a common flavourant for ice tea. Thai iced tea (cha dam yen [ชาดำเย็น]) is brewed from black tea and flavoured with star anise powder, sometimes also cinnamon, licorice, vanilla and orange flowers; it is enjoyed with crushed ice, sugar and evaporated milk. To obtain a bright orange colour, azo dyes (typically, tartrazine) are usually added.

Star anise plays some limited rôle in Persian and Pakistani (and therefrom, North Indian) cuisine. In South India it is quite common, particularly in Kerala, where it often shows up in the garam masala [ഗരം മസാലാ] spice blend (see cumin) and appears as characteristic star fragments in the local spicy adaptions of the Moghul rice dish biriyani [ബിരിയാണി] (see cardamom).

From India, star anise was also introduced to Indonesia, but is today hardly ever used save in the palaces of sultans still adhering to a Royal Indian cooking style (e. g., in Medan in the North-East of Sumatra). Star anise is also employed by the Arabic-influenced cooking of Malaysia and Southern Thailand; see coconut for an example.

Star anise has also found limited use in the West, where its main application is as a (cheaper) substitute for anise in mulled wine, desserts and, most importantly, in liqueurs. Most anise liqueurs (Pernod, Anisette, Pastis) have the anise partly substituted by star anise (see also mugwort on absinthe).

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