- Pimpinella anisum L.
- Umbel family
Parts Usually Used
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
An annual plant; the spindle-shaped, thin, woody root sends up a
round, grooved, branched stem up to 1 1/2 feet high.
The lowest leaves are round-cordate and long-petioled, the middle
leaves are pinnate, and those at the top are incised into narrow lobes.
The small, white flowers appear in compound umbels during July and
August. The downy, brown ovate fruit is about 1/8 inch
long and ripens during August and September. The whole plant has a
fragrant odor, and the seeds taste sweet when chewed. It has a licorice-like
Anise occurs wild but is widely cultivated. Native to the Mediterranean.
Antispasmodic, antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, expectorant,
stimulant, stomachic, tonic
Essential oil with anethole, choline, fatty oil
Legends, Myths and Stories
Most people don't think of anise in terms of its popularity with
mice, but in the 16th century, anise found wide application as a mouse-trap
bait. According to several old herbals, the mice found it irresistible.
The Romans served a wedding cake strongly flavored with anise seeds
to help prevent indigestion caused by overeating at the marriage banquet.
From this ancient practice came the tradition of baking special cakes
Anise is called Huai-hsiang in China, eaten to relieve flatulence
and griping bowels. The Herbal Almanac states the a few drops of Oil
of Anise, or Oil of Rhodium on a trappers bait will entice any wild
animal into the snare trap.
Anise promotes digestion,
improves appetite, alleviates
cramps and nausea, cough, colds,
and relieves flatulence, bad
breath, and, especially in infants, colic
(mothers who sip anise tea will relieve the colic in the breast feeding
baby). Is useful as an expectorant for coughs. Anise water promotes
milk production in nursing mothers, and a soothing eyewash. Said to
promote the onset of menstruation when taken as an infusion. Anise
oil helps relieve cramping, and spasms and is good as a stomach tonic.
For insomnia, that a few seeds
in a glass of hot milk before bedtime. Can be made into a salve to
use for scabies or lice. A tea made from equal parts of anise, caraway,
and fennel makes an excellent intestinal purifier. Because of its
sweetness, anise is a good additive to improve the flavor of other
Anisette, sold in most liquor stores, has volatile oil of anise as
part of the preparation. Anisette is reputedly helpful for bronchitis
and spasmodic asthma. Taken
in hot water, anisette is said to be an immediate palliative.
5 to 10 drops of anise oil on top of a tsp. of honey, taken every
1/2 hour before meals, is said to be helpful in some
cases of emphysema. 15 drops of essence of anise added
to 1 quart of hot water, used as an inhalant, will sometimes
help stubborn cases of laryngitis.
Anise has a wide variety of applications in cooking as well as medicine.
Formulas or Dosages
As seeds ripen, turning from green to gray-brown, harvest them. Alcohol
extracts the medicinal properties of anise more effectively than water.
Infusion: use 1 tsp. crushed seed to 1/2
or 1 cup boiling water. Steep 10 minutes
and strain. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups during
the day, a mouthful at a time.
Decoction: for colic, boil 1 tbsp. seed in 1/2
pint milk for 10 minutes; strain and drink hot.
Tincture: to prepare, add 2 oz. seed to 1/2
qt. brandy. Add some clean lemon peels and let stand in a sunny
place for 20 days, then strain. Take 1 tsp.
at a time.
Anise water: boil 1/2 tsp. seed in 1/2
pint water, then strain.