Thursday, December 11, 2008

Illicium verum Hook. f.

Family : Illiciaceae

Synonym(s) : Illicium anisatum Lour. non L., Badianifera officinarum Kuntze

English Name : Chinese star anise

Origin : East Asia - China, Vietnam


An evergreen tree, 8-15(-20) m tall; trunk diameter at breast height up to 25 cm; bark white. Leaves alternate, simple, coriaceous, glandular-punctate; petiole about 1 cm long; blade elliptical to obovate or lanceolate, 5-15 cm x 1.5-5 cm, margin entire, apex acute, lower side pubescent. Flowers axillary, solitary, bisexual, regular, 1-1.5 cm in diameter, white-pink to red or greenish-yellow; pedicel 0.5-1 cm long; perianth lobes 7-12, arranged spirally; stamens 11-20, arranged spirally, with short, thick filaments; carpels usually 8, free, arranged in a single whorl. Fruit a capsule-like follicetum, 2.5-4.5 cm in diameter, consisting of an agregate of (5-)8(-13) follicles arranged around a central axis in the shape of a star (hence the name star anise); each follicle boat-shaped, 1-2 cm long, rough, rigid, reddish-brown, containing 1 seed, splitting along the ventral edge when ripe. Seed subcylindrical to compressed ovoid, 8-9 mm x 6 mm, smooth, glossy, light brown, containing copious, oily endosperm.


Light woodland and thickets; forests at elevations of 200 - 1600 metres in S and W Guangxi Province, China.

Parts Used : Plant and its essential oil, and fruit

Herb Effects

Oestrogenic agent, antibacterial, carminative, diuretic, odontalgic, stimulant, and stomachic (fruits); stimulant, antiseptic, stomachic, carminative, mildly expectorant and gastrointestinal spasmolytic (plant essential oil).

Active Ingredients

1,8-cineole, alpha-pinene, alpha-phellandrene, alpha-terpinene, alpha-terpineol, beta-bisabolene, beta-elemene, beta-phellandrene, camphene, carvone, caryophyllene, cinnamic alcohol, delta-cadinene, estragole, fenchone, gamma-terpinene, limonene, methyl chavicol, myrcene, nerolidol, p-anisaldehyde, p-cymene, sabinene, terpinen-4-ol, terpinolene and trans-anethole (fruits); beta-pinene, safrole (plant).

Medicinal Use

A powder or decoction of the fruits is used to treat abdominal colic, lumbago arising from a deficiency in the kidney, vomiting and epigastric pain due to cold in the stomach and diarrhoea. The fruit is used to increase milk secretion, promote menstruation, facilitate childbirth, increase libido and alleviate symptoms of male climacteric. The plant essential oil is administered therapeutically as a bronchial expectorant for upper respiratory tract congestion and used externally against rheumatism and body lice.


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