Additional notes (click to expand)

Horticulture

Not fragrant. Flowers 2.5 - 2.75 cm diameter, crowed in axils.Foliage aromatic.
RHS. (1999). Dictionary of Gardening, RHS. Huxley, T

Medicinal

Used medicinally locally.
Mabberley, D.J. (1997) The Plant Book, ed.2, Cambridge University Press p.360

Viral neuraminidase inhibitor. The seed capsules (star anise)contain shikimic acid, from which oseltamivir (Tamiflu) was synthesised, for treating bird flu, swine flu and influenza A & B..
Oakeley, Dr. H.F. (2013). Medicines from RCP plants label list 5-2013.docx.

Prescription only medicine: ‘Tamiflu’

Nomenclature

Japanese Star Anise; Illicium religiosum; shi-kimi . Illicium comes from the Latin for Allurement, referring to the aromatic scent, anisatum indicating a scent like anise.

Other use

Illicium anisatum L. Illiciaceae Japanese Star Anise. Distribution Japan. This was also called Illicium religiosum and the fruits are toxic. Effects of taking Ilicium anisatum tea include epilepsy, vomiting, shakiness and rapid eye movements (US Food and Drug Administration report, 2003). Lindley (1838) and Bentley (1861) thought that I. anisatum was used in cooking, but they were describing the uses of I. verum which is used as a spice in Asia. Illicium anisatum syn. religiosum is 'used to make incense in Japanese and Chinese temples and was called Skimi by Kaempfer. This derives from the Japanese word 'shi-kimi'. The seed pods of both species contain shikimic acid (the name being derived from the Japanese) from which Tamiflu, the antiviral drug was synthesised.
Oakeley, Dr. Henry F. (2013). Wellcome Library notes. link

The star-shaped seed pods give these two plants their common name, but they are very different. Illicium anisatum, Japanese star anise, contains nasty neurotoxins. It should not be confused with Illicium verum, Chinese star anise, a culinary spice also used to make star anise tea. Illicium seed pods (mostly from I. verum) contain shikimic acid from which ‘Tamiflu’ (oseltamivir), a treatment for bird and swine flu, is made. Neither extracts from the plants nor shikimic acid itself have any effect as antiviral agents. These plants are also the source of an anti-cancer treatment that is an angioneogenesis inhibitor (ie it stops the production of the blood supply to the tumour). This property is also used to prevent the little tubes, the ‘stents’ that are used to open up blocked coronary arteries, from clogging up. The stent is impregnated with the chemical and this leaches out slowly, acting like anti-fouling paint and so preventing the coronary artery lining from growing inside the stent
Oakeley, Dr. Henry. (2011). A Year in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, revised edition. Royal College of Physicians, London. link

Branches used to decorate Buddhist graves.
Mabberley, D.J. (1997) The Plant Book, ed.2, Cambridge University Press p.360

Toxicity

Toxic seeds used to kill fish
Mabberley, D.J. (1997) The Plant Book, ed.2, Cambridge University Press p 360

Effects of taking Ilicium anisatum tea include epilepsy, vomiting, shakiness and rapid eye movements (US Food and Drug Administration report, 2003).
Oakeley, Dr. Henry F. (2013). Wellcome Library notes. link

Geographical distribution

  • Asia-Temperate, Eastern Asia, Japan
  • Asia-Temperate, Eastern Asia, Korea
  • Asia-Temperate, Eastern Asia, Taiwan

Illicium anisatum L.

Family: ILLICIACEAE
Genus: Illicium
Species: anisatum L.
Common names: Japanese Anise
Distribution summary: Japan, Korea, Taiwan
Habit: Shrub
Hardiness: H4 - Hardy; average winter
Habitat: Woodlands
Garden status: Currently grown
Garden location: Far East (L)
Flowering months: April, May
Reason for growing: Medicinal, toxic, prescription only medicine


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