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Illicium

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
il-LISS-ee-um
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Illicium is a flowering plant genus with 38 species in the Schisandraceae (Star Anise) family. These are native to parts of Asia, the Southeastern United States, Central America, and the Caribbean. Most are understory evergreen to semi-evergreen shrubs to small trees. The crushed leaves, stems, and seeds have an anise spice fragrance.

Most prefer part shade to shade, but some varieties will tolerate more sun if given enough moisture. They tolerate loam or sandy soils that are moist to wet with a neutral or acid PH.

In some species, the fragrant flowers are quite showy with attractive seed pods. Only the seed pods of Illicium verum (Chinese Star Anise) are recognized for culinary use in teas and as a spice. All other species have a variety of toxic characteristics in leaves, stems, and/or seed pods. Use as a specimen, a hedge, or along ponds and streams in a naturalized or woodland garden. Propagate by layering, stem cuttings, or seed. Star Anise is resistant to deer browsing.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No serious insect or disease problems.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Alba', anisatum, floridanum, henryi, lanceolatum, 'Orion', parviflorum, 'Scorpio", ‘Shady Lady’, ‘Woodland Ruby’
Tags:
#poisonous#wildlife plant#fragrant leaves#cover plant#deer resistant#evergreen shrub#understory planting#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#partial shade tolerant#heavy shade tolerant#woodland garden#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Alba', anisatum, floridanum, henryi, lanceolatum, 'Orion', parviflorum, 'Scorpio", ‘Shady Lady’, ‘Woodland Ruby’
Tags:
#poisonous#wildlife plant#fragrant leaves#cover plant#deer resistant#evergreen shrub#understory planting#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#partial shade tolerant#heavy shade tolerant#woodland garden#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Illicium
    Family:
    Schisandraceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The seed pods of Illicium verum (Chinese Star Anise) can be used for culinary use in teas and as a spice. All other species have toxic characteristics in leaves, stems, and/or seed pods.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Layering
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Parts of SE Asia, SE US, Central America, and the Caribbean
    Distribution:
    Alabama, Assam, Borneo, Cambodia, North-Central, South-Central, and Southeast China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Himalaya, Florida, Georgia, Hainan, Haiti, Japan, Korea, Louisiana, Malaya, Central, Gulf, and Northeast Mexico, Mississippi, Myanmar, Nansei-shoto, Philippines, Sumatera, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam.
    Wildlife Value:
    Provides cover for birds.
    Edibility:
    Only the seed pods of Illicium verum (Chinese star anise) are recognized for culinary use in teas and as a spice. All other species have a variety of toxic characteristics in leaves, stems, and/or seed pods.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    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:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Aggregate
    Follicle
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is an aggregate of follicles arranged in a star-shaped whorl.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    Tepals
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Flowers consist or 7 to 20 tepals, sometimes more than 20, depending on species. Flowers can also vary in color, size and description depending on species.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Variegated
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Obovate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate green leaves on petioles have entire margins. Their color (green to purple to varigated), shape, and feel vary depending on species.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Yes
    Stem Description:
    Stem color will vary depending on the species or cultivar.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Pond
    Riparian
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Garden for the Blind
    Rain Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Hedge
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    All species and cultivars of Illicium, except for I. verum (Chinese Star Anise), have varying levels of toxicity.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Sesquiterpene lactones
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Seeds