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Star Anise

Illicium verum

star anise for making incense

Aromatic Note: Top note


Star Anise is star-shaped fruit from an evergreen tree belonging to the magnolia family, Illicium verum, also known as badiane.

Star anise is a classic star-shaped spice with a rich, licorice flavor and aroma that has been used in cooking and incense for thousands of years.

In ancient times, Illicium verum—the Latin name for star anise, which means “true star”,—was believed to ward off evil spirits and promote longevity.

These days, star anise is used to flavor everything from alcoholic beverages—such as absinthe and ouzo—to desserts like ice cream, cakes, cookies, puddings, brownies, and chocolate bars. But star anise has more than culinary uses: it also has literary and spiritual significance.

Star anise is also found in Chinese five-spice powder—a mixture of star anise plus other spices such as cinnamon, cloves, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. In Asian cuisine, star anise is a staple ingredient for making broths or stews.

Besides being used as incense or as a flavoring for food, star anise was once used as an ingredient in cigarettes.

Its medicinal use was first recorded by Indian scholars around 1100 BC where it was found mentioned in the Atharva-Veda as a cure for various diseases.

Star Anise essential oil is extracted from star anise seeds through steam distillation which then captures the spicy scent, with undertones of licorice, citrus fruit, and even cloves.

For incense use, star anise has a strong fragrance that is similar to, but more powerful than, anethole which lends star anise its distinctive liquorice-like aroma.


Family: Illiciaceae

Synonyms: Chinese anise

Origin: Southeast China, Vietnam, etc.

Parts Used: star-shaped fruits (dried)

Aroma Description: intensely sweet, very licorice-like

Cosmetic Uses: perfumery, aromatherapy

Culinary Uses: unripe fruits are chewed for digestion and as a breath freshener. Used as flavoring for curries, coffee, liqueurs, soft drinks, foods and candy. An ingredient in the “Five Spice Powder” of Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine.

Medicinal Attributes: treats lung congestion, muscle spasms, indigestion, abdominal pain, coughing. Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Excess dosage or use can cause trembling or convulsions due to high content of anethole.

*Warning: Can be narcotic and cause slow blood circulation. Can cause skin dermatitis in sensitive individuals.

Essential Oil: Yes. The seeds and fruit are steam distilled to create en essential oil. Oil solidifies at room temperature.

Note: This oil is often adulterated with a synthetic Anethole which may be harmful to humans due to the presence of cis-Anethole and other synthetic anetholes. Use only a known, trusted source or use a lab to properly identify toxicity.

Mixes Well With: aloeswood, benzoin, borneol camphor, calamus, cassia, cinnamon, clove, frankincense, galangal, guggul, iris root, lavender, musk seeds, myrrh, opoponax, pine needles, rhubarb, rose, sandalwood, turmeric, etc.

Medical Disclaimer: Information on this web site is for entertainment purposes only. This information is NOT intended as medical advice, or for use as diagnosis or treatment of a health problem, or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional.


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