Anise (Pimpinella anisum, also anís (stressed on the second syllable) and aniseed) is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. It is known for its flavor, which resembles liquorice, fennel and tarragon.
Anise is a herbaceous annual plant growing to 3 ft (0.91 m) tall. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, 0.5–2 in (1.3–5.1 cm) long and shallowly lobed, while leaves higher on the stems are feathery pinnate, divided into numerous leaves. The flowers are white, approximately 3 mm diameter, produced in dense umbels. The fruit is an oblong dry schizocarp, 3 – 5 mm long. It is these seed pods that are referred to as "aniseed".
Anise is used as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (butterflies and moths), including the lime-speck pug and wormwood pug.
Anise plants grow best in light, fertile, well drained soil. The seeds should be planted as soon as the ground warms up in spring. Because the plants have a taproot, they do not transplant well after being established, so they should be started either in their final location or transplanted while the seedlings are still small.
Western cuisines have long used anise as a moderately popular herb to flavor some dishes, drinks, and candies, and so the word has come to connote both the species of herb and the licorice-like flavor. The most powerful flavor component of the essential oil of anise, anethole, is found in both anise and an unrelated spice called star anise. Featured prominently in South Asian, Southeast Asian, and East Asian dishes, star anise is considerably less expensive to produce, and has gradually displaced the 'original' anise in Western markets. While formerly produced in larger quantities, by 1999 world production of the essential oil of anise was only 8 tonnes, compared to 400 tonnes from star anise.
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