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Florida anise

Q: I noticed commercial sites are starting to use a plant called the Florida anise shrub. The leaves smell like licorice. Is this the same plant used in cooking spice cookies?

Q:  I noticed commercial sites are starting to use a plant called the Florida anise shrub.  The leaves smell like licorice.  Is this the same plant used in cooking spice cookies?

A:  I am so glad you asked this question before ingesting the plant. Please do not use any part of the Florida anise or the yellow anise plant in cooking.  The yellow anise, Illicium parviflorum (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FP/FP27800.pdf) produces small yellow flowers and pale, green leathery leaves. This is the shrub you are seeing used more often at commercial sites.  The Florida anise, Illicium floridanum, (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FP/FP27700.pdf) produces red flowers.  Both of the above mentioned shrubs are commonly planted in our landscapes as they are perfect for our cold hardiness zone.

Florida anise and yellow anise are very easy to grow, require minimal irrigation and have few pest issues. Both plants reach heights of up to 15 feet with a slightly larger spread of up to 20 feet.  It is important to consider the potential mature size when using it in your landscape. The shrub which produces a spice used for teas and cooking is from the spice plant called Chinese Star Anise, Illicium verum. Notice, all three have the same genus (first name) but the species names are quite different.