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Illicium floridanum

This plant has poison characteristics. See below.
Common Name(s):
Anise tree, Florida anise tree
'Alba', 'Halley's Comet', 'Semnes'
Poisonous Plants, Shrubs, Trees

An attractive evergreen shrub in the Schisandraceae family, native to Florida.  It has fragrant foliage when leaves are crushed.  Both the foliage and fruit are poisonous to livestock. Spreads by root suckers. Tolerates heavy shade, erosion and wet planting sites.  It is not cold hardy.  Would be ideal in a rain garden or allowed to naturalize.  This is a great evergreen shrub for moist, shady locations 

A rapid growing, low maintenance shrub with spectacular foliage is a combination that’s hard to beat.  The plant has a multi-stemmed, upright, compact habit. The foliage is quite attractive and aromatic, smelling similar to anise spice when crushed. The shiny, leathery leaves are olive green in color and the 1½-inch flowers are dark red, with many petals appearing in the early spring.

Illicium species usually reach a height between 10 to 15 feet and should be spaced in the landscape at least five feet apart. Florida anise’s natural habitats are the wet, swampy areas or wooded streams with acidic rich soil from Florida to Louisiana, but it will thrive here in the Carolinas. Illicium grows in partial shade to full shade, but reportedly can be acclimated to full sun if well-watered. It prefers moist soil and definitely should be mulched and watered during prolonged dry spells, as it has a tendency to wilt. The recommended USDA zones range from 7 to 10.

Several cultivars are available, including ‘Alba’ with white flowers and ‘Shady Lady,’ which is variegated.  Illicium ‘Woodland Ruby’ is an interspecific hybrid between I. floridanum ‘Alba’ and I. mexicanum and produces showy blooms in spring and fall.

The anise that is used as a spice is derived from a different species, Illicium verum, an evergreen tree native to southern China and Vietnam.

Seasons of Interest:

Foliage: Evergreen   Bloom: Spring, April-May

Wildlife Value: Flowers are attractive to pollinators.  This plant is resistant to damage by deer.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No serious insect or disease problems. The leaves may discolor in sun or if exposed to harsh winds.

Compare this Plant to: I. parviflorum a popular landscaping shrub, especially for use as hedges, and it is more tolerant of sun and dry soil, or the rare, yellow-flowered speciesIllicium simonsii.

10-15 ft.
Alternate, simple, lustrous to dull, dark green leaves; 2-6 in. long; fragrant like anise when crushed
Fragrant in an unpleasant way, showy 2" red blooms with 20-30 strap-shaped petals that nod on the end of stems. Bloom in the spring April-May followed by a star-shaped fruit.
Partial shade to shade; prefers moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter
Upright; much-branched shrub; open, loose
Poison Part:
All parts
6-8 ft.
naturalize, heavy shade, riparian, erosion, wet sites, low maintenance, fragrant leaves, small tree, pollinator, fragrant, wet soil, wet, fragrant blooms, rain garden, fragrant flowers, evergreen

NCCES plant id: 1596

Illicum floridanum Flower
Scott Zona, CC BY-NC-2.0
Illicum floridanum Flower and leaves
Scott Zona, CC BY-NC-2.0
Illicum floridanum Illicum floridanum
peganum, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Illicum floridanum Illicum floridanum
peganum, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Illicum floridanum Illicum floridanum
peganum, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Illicum floridanum Immature fruit
David Hill, CC BY - 2.0