Pimpinella anisum L., a herbaceous annual native to the Mediterranean
region and Egypt, is cultivated in Europe, the Middle East, Mexico,
North Africa, India and Russia chiefly for its fruits, called aniseed,
the flavour of which resembles that of licorice. Anise was well known
to the ancient Egyptians and Romans.
plant reaches a height of about 0.75m and requires a warm and long
frost-free growing season of 120 days. It has long-stalked basal leaves
and shorter, stalked stem leaves. Its small and yellowish white flowers
form loose umbels. The fruit is nearly ovoid in shape, about 3.5 mm
long, and has five longitudinal dorsal ridges. The fruit consists
of two united carpels each containing an anise seed. The seed is small
and curved, about 0.5 cm long and grayish brown. Its usually contains
hair-like protrusions from each end.
reported life zone for anise production is 8 to 23oC with 400 to 1700
mm of precipitation and a soil pH of 6.3 to 7.3. Seeds should be planted
early in spring in rows 60 to 90cm feet apart and at the rate of a
dozen to 30 cm. The surface of the soil should be made smooth and
the seeds covered to a depth of 2cm. The stand should be thinned to
three or four plants to 30 cm. Only light cultivation is needed for
weed control. Anise develops very well in deep, friable soils and
appears to respond favorably to nitrogen fertilization by yielding
a greater quantity of high-quality fruit.
The small white flowers bloom in midsummer, and seed maturation usually
occurs one month after pollination, when the oil content in the dried
fruit is about 2.5%. The fruiting umbels should be harvested when
the seeds turn brown, which take place late in fall. The fresh leaves
possess a flavour similar to that of the seeds and may be used as
needed during the season. As they are clipped from the plants the
umbels should be thoroughly dried either in shade or under the sun
and the seeds separated, cleaned and stored for later use.
essential oil of anise is present at about1.5 - 3.5% level. The major
constituent in oil of anise is anethole. Methyl chavicol, anisaldehyde
and para-methoyphenylacetone are also present, but in lesser relative
leaves may be used in salads, especially apple; seeds in cookies and
candies. While the entire plant is fragrant, it is the fruit of anise,
commercially called anise seed, that has been highly valued since
antiquity. The delicate fragrance is widely used for flavouring curries,
breads, soups, cakes, candies, desserts, non-alcoholic beverages,
and such liqueurs as anisette and arak. Aniseed is widely used to
flavour pasteries; it is the characteristic ingredient of a German
bread called Anisbrod. In the Mediterranean region and in Asia, aniseed
id commonly used in meat and vegetable dishes.
is used in Italian sausage, pepperoni, pizza topping and other processes
meat items.The volatile or essential oil, obtained by steam distillation
of the crushed anise seed, is valuable in perfumery and soaps and
has been used in toothpastes, mouthwashes and skin creams. The essential
oil is used to flavour absinthe, and Penod liqueurs. Anise oil is
sometimes uses as an adulterant in the essential oil of licorice.
The oil is sometimes uses as sensitizer for bleaching colors in photography.
The seeds are chewed after a meal in India to sweeten the breath.
and Other use
makes a soothing herbal tea and has been used medicinally from prehistoric
items. As a medicinal plant, anise has been used as a carminative,
antiseptic, antispasmodic, expectorant, stimulant, and stomachic.
In addition, it has been used to promote lactation in nursing mothers
and as a medicine against bronchitis and indigestion. Oil of anise
is used today as and ingredient in cough medicine and lozenges and
is reported to have diuretic and diaphoretic properties. If ingested
in sufficient quantities, anise oil may induce nausea, vomiting ,
seizures and pulmonary edema. Contact of the concentrated oil with
the skin can cause irritation.