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Illicium floridanum

Previously known as:

  • Illicium mexicanum
Phonetic Spelling
il-LISS-ee-um flor-ih-DAY-num
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

The Florida anise tree, also called purple anise, is an attractive, medium to large, evergreen shrub in the Schisandraceae (starvine) family and native to the southeastern United States and northern Mexico. It is multistemmed, upright, and compact. The genus name derives from the Latin term "illici" meaning “seductive,” in reference to its scent. The species epithet floridanum comes from the Latin "florid" meaning "flowery" and also that it is native to Florida.

It is best to grow this plant in part to full shade, as the leaves may scorch in many hours of bright sunlight. It is not drought tolerant and therefore requires moist, rich soil to grow, but is otherwise a rapid growing, comparatively low-maintenance shrub. It does spread by root suckers, which may be cut away as needed. It tolerates heavy shade, erosion, and wet planting sites, but is not cold hardy. 

The bright foliage of this plant is attractive and aromatic, smelling similar to anise spice when crushed or bruised. The shiny, leathery leaves are light olive-green in color and the 1.5 inch flowers are dark red, appearing in the early spring. The leaves contain high levels of aromatic compounds that repel or are toxic to insects, making it pest resistant.

This shrub’s preference for moist, well-drained soil with high organic matter would make it ideal in a rain garden or allowed to naturalize in shady locations.  

Quick ID Hints:

  • Thick, elliptic leaves are in pseudo-whorls at branch tips
  • Bruised leaves smell like anise
  • Plant has purplish, foetid flowers with many ligulate petals
  • Leaf has reddish-purple petiole

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No significant problems. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Collector’s Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Aztec Fire', 'Grey Ghost', 'Halley's Comet', 'Pebblebrook', 'Pink Frost', 'Semnes', 'Shady Lady', 'Swamp Hobbit', 'Thayer', var. album
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#small tree#rain garden#fragrant flowers#shrub#brown#fragrant leaves#aromatic#shade garden#low maintenance#winter interest#riparian#erosion control#fast growing#large shrub#deer resistant#glossy leaves#yellow fruits#green fruits#naturalizes#pollinator plant#fantz#evergreen shrub#wet soils tolerant#fruits#malodorous#heavy shade tolerant#stormwater demo garden orange co
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Aztec Fire', 'Grey Ghost', 'Halley's Comet', 'Pebblebrook', 'Pink Frost', 'Semnes', 'Shady Lady', 'Swamp Hobbit', 'Thayer', var. album
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#small tree#rain garden#fragrant flowers#shrub#brown#fragrant leaves#aromatic#shade garden#low maintenance#winter interest#riparian#erosion control#fast growing#large shrub#deer resistant#glossy leaves#yellow fruits#green fruits#naturalizes#pollinator plant#fantz#evergreen shrub#wet soils tolerant#fruits#malodorous#heavy shade tolerant#stormwater demo garden orange co
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Illicium
    Species:
    floridanum
    Family:
    Schisandraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South East U.S.A., Mexico
    Distribution:
    AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, Central Mexico, Gulf of Mexico, Northeastern Mexico
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers are attractive to pollinators
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    deer
    Edibility:
    POISONOUS IF INGESTED. NOT a substitute for the star anise spice.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    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
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • 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 Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Radial
    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:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Rubbery
    Smooth
    Waxy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    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 glossy 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
    Gray/Silver
    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:
    Garden for the Blind
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Malodorous
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Children
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Poisonous to humans and livestock if ingested. NOT a substitute for the star anise spice.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unknown
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Seeds