Anise Red



Botanical Name:  Illicium floridanum

Common Name:  Red Anise, Florida Anise Tree, Purple Anise

Description:  Beautiful evergreen Florida native shrub for the shady areas of your garden.

It is best to grow this plant in part shade to full shade, as the leaves may scorch in many hours of bright sunlight. It is not drought tolerant and therefore requires moist, rich soil to grow, but is otherwise a rapid growing, comparatively low-maintenance shrub. It does spread by root suckers, which may be cut away as needed. It tolerates heavy shade, erosion, and wet planting sites. Grows 10-15′ tall x 8′ wide.

The bright foliage of this plant is attractive and aromatic, smelling similar to anise spice when crushed or bruised. The shiny, leathery leaves are light olive-green in color and the 1.5 inch flowers are dark red, appearing in the early spring. The flowers are pollinated by a variety of insects, especially native flies. The flowers have an unusual, somewhat “fishy” fragrance.

This shrub’s preference for moist, well-drained soil with high organic matter would make it ideal in a rain garden or allowed to naturalize in shady locations.

This plant has no significant insect, disease, or other plant issues. The leaves contain high levels of aromatic compounds that repel or are toxic to insects.

Its native habitat is slope forest, floodplain forest, hydric hammocks, seep stream (banks), steepheads, in loam or sandy soils with acidic to neutral pH.

Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water. Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray.

Poisonous to humans and livestock if ingested. NOT a substitute for the star anise spice.

This is protected in Florida as a threatened species, so please do not disturb the ones found growing in the wild.

This plant in 3-gallon containers is 2-3′ tall.

Plant Lore:  The distribution of Red Anise in Florida mimics the distribution of steepheads, a stream/valley system that originates in a very steep-headed ravine where the water seeps out of the ground to form a stream, and the headwall gradually moves uphill due to the water exiting the ground undermining it. The genus name derives from the Latin term “illici” meaning “seductive,” in reference to its scent. The species epithet floridanum comes from the Latin “florid” meaning “flowery” and also that it is native to Florida.

Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 9

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