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Illicium floridanum

Common Name(s):

Description

An attractive medium to large evergreen shrub in the Schisandraceae family, native to Florida. It is upright and compact. 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 and is intolerant to full sun (causes leaves to yellow).  It prefers moist, well-drained soil with high organic matter, and 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 or gin-and-tonic when crushed or bruised. Leaves contain high levels of aromatic compounds that repel or are toxic to insects, making this plant pest resistant. Leaves may discolor in full sun or upon exposure to winter winds, making this plant a good broadleaf evergreen for shady locations. 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. Flowers are pretty but malodorous.

Illicium species usually reach a height between 10 to 15 feet, but this plant reaches a little over 3 feet. Illicium species 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.

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.

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.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Thick, elliptic leaves are in pseudo-whorls at branch tips.
  • Bruised leaves smell like gin-and-tonic.
  • Plant has purplish, foetid flowers with many ligulate petals.
  • Leaf has reddish-purple petiole.
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    has white flowers
  • 'Halley's Comet'
  • 'Semnes'
  • 'Shady Lady'
    variegated
  • 'Woodland Ruby'
    an interspecific hybrid between I. floridanum 'Alba' and I. mexicanum
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#fruit#yellow#small tree#rain garden#fragrant flowers#foliage#heavy shade#green#shrub#brown#shade tolerant#fragrant leaves#aromatic#low maintenance#riparian#erosion control#wet sites#large shrub#deer resistant#yellow fruits#wet soil#green fruits#naturalizes#pollinator plant#fantz#florida
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    has white flowers
  • 'Halley's Comet'
  • 'Semnes'
  • 'Shady Lady'
    variegated
  • 'Woodland Ruby'
    an interspecific hybrid between I. floridanum 'Alba' and I. mexicanum
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#fruit#yellow#small tree#rain garden#fragrant flowers#foliage#heavy shade#green#shrub#brown#shade tolerant#fragrant leaves#aromatic#low maintenance#riparian#erosion control#wet sites#large shrub#deer resistant#yellow fruits#wet soil#green fruits#naturalizes#pollinator plant#fantz#florida
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Illicium
    Species:
    floridanum
    Family:
    Schisandraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Florida
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers are attractive to pollinators
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Screening
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    deer
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Plant produces a cluster of one-seeded dehiscent follicles arranged in a star-shaped whorl. Fruits are green to yellow to brown in color, less than an inch in diameter. Seeds are brown and shiny.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    more than 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The showy maroon-purple blooms have an unpleasant odor with many strap-shaped petals that nod on slender pedicels. They are foetid, cauliferous, up to 2" in diameter. Petals are ligulate. Flowers bloom in the spring (April-May).
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Rubbery
    Smooth
    Waxy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are alternate, simple, lustrous to dull, and 2"-6". long. They are dark green above and pale below. They are in a pseudo-whorl at the end of the stem, are elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate, acute, cuneate, entire, and glabrous. Leaves are thick, have a reddish purple petiole, and smell like gin-and-tonic or anise when bruised or crushed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Surface:
    Polished
    Stem Description:
    Stems are stout, shiny, gray-brown in color, and dotted with small lenticels. They are pith green and solid.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Pond
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Wet Soil