Anise – characteristics, cultivation and use

Anise plant with flowers
Anise plant with flowers

Anise is a versatile plant that has a long tradition and has lost none of its charm to this day. As a spice, the aniseed are taken to refine desserts, baked goods and spirits. As a medicinal herb, it is used in abdominal pain, flatulence and cough.

Profile of anise:

Scientific name: Pimpinella anisum

Plant family: umbellifer

Other names: aniseed

Sowing time / Planting time: April – May

Flowering period: June – October

Harvest time: September – October

Location: sunny

Soil quality: nutrient rich, calcareous and permeable soils

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: cold, stomach upset, bloating, osteoporosis, chronic bronchitis, cough

Use as aromatic herb: cookies, bread, fish, meat dishes, cabbage soup, potato soup

Plant characteristics and classification of anise

Origin and occurrence of anise

The exact region of origin of the anise is unknown. It is believed that the plant has its origin in the eastern Mediterranean. In countries bordering on this region as far as West Asia, it can be found wild, especially on meadows.

Plant order of anise

The anise, which is listed under the botanical name Pimpinella anisum, is a member of the umbelliferae (Apiaceae). This herbal-rich family brings many more famous kitchen and medicinal herbs such as caraway, dill, fennel or wild carrot.

Closer considered, anise belongs to the genus of burnets (Pimpinella), which includes about 150 species. In addition to anise, here the burnet-saxifrage and great burnet-saxifrage are occasionally used as medicinal herbs.

There are regional different anise varieties, which differ mainly by the content of essential oils. Syrian anise, for example, contains the highest levels of the oil anethole at up to 6 percent, while German anise contains only 1.5 to 2 percent.

Relationship to star anise: The plant presented here is not to be mistaken for the star anise in the botanical sense. The star aniseed forms its own family and is therefore not related to the anise.

Characteristics of anise


Anise is a typical herbaceous plant with stature heights up to 70 cm (28 in). Usually, however, heights between 25 and 60 cm (10-24 in) are reached. Anise plants are basically annual. A special feature of the plant is the aromatic, typically anise-scented smell. The root reaches 50 to 60 cm (20-24 in) deep into the ground. The shape of the root is usually spindle-shaped.


Depending on the age of the plant, three types of leaves can be distinguished. The lower leaves (basal leaves) of the plant are usually serrated on the edge and reminiscent of finely feathered needles. The leaves in the middle of the stem are arranged in a fan, the edges of the leaves are strikingly sawn. The upper leaves, however, arise by splitting the middle leaves and are usually arranged in two to three smaller pinnas. The leaves are hairless in contrast to the stems.


During flowering anise forms white flowers, sitting in the 7 to 15 -radial umbels. The umbels themselves often have several smaller bracts, which take a mostly lanceolate form. Each flower is hermaphrodite and has five petals. The flowering period is usually between mid-June and late September.


Following the flowering period, the typical brown aniseed fruits form, which are referred to in the botanical sense as schizocarp. The fruits are relatively large with 4 to 5 mm (0.16 to 0.2 in) and have an egg-shaped form.

Aniseed with fruits/seeds
Aniseed with fruits/seeds

Anise – cultivation and care

Anise can be grown quite well with us, even if some preparations have to be made and the plants are not necessarily considered to be easy to maintain.


The aniseed plants prefer a sunny location with permeable, nutrient-rich and slightly calcareous soil. If the garden soil is rather heavy and loamy, it should first be mixed with a little sand. Rather sandy soils, should be mixed with some compost and clay flour.

Sowing and cultivation

The sowing of the aniseed can take place in spring from the end of April until the beginning of May directly in the garden bed. It is important that the seeds are not exposed to frost. It is also possible to pre-culture in house between February and March. For this, mineral substrates based on zeolite or pumice, which are mixed with some compost are recommended.

When spreading the seeds in the field, sowing distances between 25 and 30 cm (10-12 in) should be kept. Anise needs dark to germ. Therefore, the seeds must be pressed at least 1 cm (0.5 in) into the ground. The first sprouts can be expected after four weeks.

Although it is possible to cultivate anise in potted cultures on the balcony or terrace. However, very deep pots are needed because the plant can form roots up to 50 cm (20 in).


If the plant grows on a nutrient-rich soil and if the seed intervals have been maintained accordingly, anise plant in the field normally does not need to be fertilized. Before sowing, some compost or cattle manure can be incorporated, which increases the proportion of humus and ensures that the one-year-old plant has sufficient nutrients. If it grows in potted cultures, a classic herbal fertilizer should be used once a month. If anise is to be grown over several years, an annual change of location is advisable.


Care should be taken when watering, the soil should never completely dry out. Anise prefers slightly moist soils. Short-term dry periods without water replenishment are usually not problematic. If the soil is dry from 1 cm (0.4 in) (finger test) on, it should be watered. However, waterlogging should be avoided.


The harvest of anise occurs as well as the fruits have developed, generally noticeable by a change of color. Since only the seeds are of interest, it is advisable to harvest the whole plant, hang it up to dry and then thresh the grains from the umbels.

Anise and its use

Anise is considered an excellent spice plant and can be used in the kitchen quite diverse. In addition, the plant is widely used in herbal medicine and can be used for numerous ailments.

Anise in the kitchen

Anise is indispensable in the kitchens of many countries as a spice. Only the ground ripe fruits or seeds of the plant are used.

The taste of anise is sweet with a slightly tart touch. Freshly ground anise has the most intense aroma. However, as the flavor-bearing essential oils evaporate quickly, the taste intensity decreases quite quickly. It is therefore advisable to grind fresh aniseed either by yourself or to use freshly cracked anise powder as quickly as possible and to store it in an airtight container.

Anise is particularly often used for the preparation of many desserts. These include, for example, the popular aniseed biscuits, which are consumed especially at Christmas time. But other baked goods such as light wheat breads, fruit breads or cakes can be excellently refined with anise.

Anise can also be used for hearty meals and dishes. So is the spice suitable for potato soups, cabbage soups, herb soups or lentil stews. Meat and fish dishes can also be flavored with anise, as far as a slightly sweet and exotic note is desired. As a very good flavor carrier it is also suitable for flavorful vegetables and for the preparation of salads. These include, above all, beetroot, peppers or tomatoes.

Anise is also used as a spice for spirits. Many liquors and liquors from the Turkish and Greek regions contain anise and give these drinks a dull, almost milky appearance. Well-known alcoholic spirits are Ouzo, Raki, Absinthe, Pernod, Mastika and Arrak.

In the industry anise is used today mainly for the production of sweets or biscuits. Occasionally, it is also used as a compatible preservative.

Anise as a medicinal herb

Besides being used as a spice, anise is a very versatile herb. The healing effect was already known in antiquity, which is why the medicinal plant was also used there for numerous complaints.

In older herbal books anise was used for internal complaints such as flatulence, dropsy, stomach ache, liver problems, gingivitis or various diseases of the respiratory system. Externally, anise was used for animal bites, headaches or earache. The seeds were mixed with wine, drunk as tea or smoked.

Even today, the anise plant is often used as a home remedy or natural remedy.

Today anise is used for these complaints

  • asthma
  • bloating
  • bronchitis
  • dry cough
  • epilepsy (supportive)
  • headache
  • indigestion
  • insect bites
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • milk production
  • stomach cramps
  • throat infection

Medicinal properties

  • antibacterial
  • antispasmodic
  • diuretic
  • expectorant
  • relaxing
  • toning

The most common application is probably the preparation of an aniseed tea.

Preparation of an anise tea

  • crush 1 to 2 teaspoons of aniseed in a cup
  • dash wish boiling hot water
  • let the tea steep for 8-10 minutes, covered
  • filter the tea afterwards
  • drink the tea in small sips
  • for a healing application should be drunk three to five cups daily
  • if you have a stomach ailment, it is advisable to drink the tea during meals.

Anise is often drunk in combination with fennel and caraway or chamomile. All these herbs also have approximately the same application areas. Fennel, caraway and aniseed tea is also often given to infants and young children to stimulate their digestive activities. However, many sources recommend diluting the tea only. If and to what extent such tea makes sense for infants should be discussed with the treating pediatrician or midwife.

Preparation of a mixture of teas for flatulence


40 gr aniseed fruits (= seeds) (1.4 lbs)

40 gr fennel fruits (= seeds) (1.4 lbs)

20 gr chamomile flowers (0.7 lbs)


  • brew a tea with a tablespoon of tea mixture per cup
  • let the tea steep for 10-15 minutes
  • filter the tea afterwards
  • drink the tea in small sips

Another application of the medicinal plant is the use of anise oil, which is used for both external and inhalative use. Aniseed oil is used as a massage aid, as a sedative for abdominal pain or as an ingredient in various ointments.

As a medicinal plant, anise also plays a certain role in Ayurvedic medicine. There, the seeds are used as a calming, warming, expectorant and diuretic remedy. Aniseed is also used here as a stimulant.

Side effects of anise

Very rarely, allergic reactions occur in cases of hypersensitivity to anethole.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buy Anise – What to pay attention to?

Since anise is especially popular as a spice and as a fragrance, there are many aniseed products on the market.

Most supermarkets and grocers offer ground aniseed that can be used directly as an ingredient in food or drinks. However, ground aniseed should be consumed within six months as the aroma is lost quite quickly. When buying ground anise, it is important to pay attention to air and aroma-tight packaging.

If you want to keep anise a little longer, anise seeds are to be preferred. These are usually cheaper than the ground ones and can also be used for a tea. Well stored, the seeds keep about 4 years.

If anise is to be cultivated as a plant, it is advisable to buy seeds that are also marketed for cultivation. Sometimes spice seeds can be treated so that germination is no longer possible. Many seed manufacturers offer appropriate products.

Aniseed oil is recommended for the production of own cosmetics, ointments or fragrances. If the oil is to be used for medical applications, check to see if it is genuine oil.

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