Also known as Chinese anise tree, this broadleaf evergreen shrub is a member of the starvine family, Schisandraceae, consisting of 3 genera and 92 species. It is native to central and western China where it is found on cliffs and scrub brush habitats. The plant grows up to 20′ tall but it is usually no more than 16′ tall. The leathery, lanceolate to obovate leaves are 4-6″ long, glossy dark green above with paler underside, and highly aromatic when bruised. In spring, cupped shaped flowers appear on long peduncles. Each flower is waxy, about 1″ across, and has 10-14 pink to deep crimson, strap-shaped petals. The fruits that follow are a one seeded follicles arranged in a star-shape. Henry anise is a good choice for a screen, hedge, border, and woodland garden. Leaves and seeds are poisonous. The genus name, Illicium, comes from the Latin word illicere, meaning to allure, referring to the appealing fragrance of many species. The specific epithet, henryi, honors Augustine Henry (1857 –1930) Irish botanist.

Type: Flowering broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree

Outstanding Feature: Foliage, flowers

Form: Pyramidal to rounded

Growth Rate: Moderate

Bloom: Pink to dark crimson cupped shaped flowers in spring

Size: 6-20′ H

Light: Part sun to shade

Soil: Humusy, consistently moist, well-drained, acidic

Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed, softwood cuttings in late summer

Outstanding Selections: None available

Photo Credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Wikimedia Commons

By Karen