Illicium verum, “Staranise tree” in English and “Badianier de Chine” in French, belongs to the Schisandraceae botanical family. It is a tree that can be 5 to 18 m tall. Native to China and Vietnam, it grows in light woodland and thickets.
The fruit, “Star anise” in English, “Badiane” or “Anis étoilé” in French, is used in teas, curries and in the Chinese “five spices powder”, and its essential oil is a flavouring in cooking, perfume and cosmetics.
It has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, mostly for the treatment of all kinds of digestive disturbances including colic, and complaints such as lumbago.
The fruit has wide pharmacological actions, especially in antimicrobial, antioxidant, insecticidal, analgesic, sedative and convulsive activities.
Among its numerous constituents are volatiles, seco-prezizaane-type sesquiterpenes, phenylpropanoids, lignans, flavonoids. It is the major source of shikimic acid, a primary starting material of Tamiflu, an antiflu drug. The fruit essential oil contains mostly trans-Anethole.