Native to Japan and Korea, this broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree is a member of the starvine family, Schisandraceae, consisting of 3 genera and 92 species. The plant grows 6-15′ tall and has leathery, glossy green leaves that are 2-4″ long and oval. They have wavy margins and an anise-like fragrance when crushed. Carried perpendicular to the stem, they remain fresh for a long time after cutting, so are valued for flower arrangements. In spring, clusters of creamy-white flowers appear in the leaf axils. The flowers are about 1″ across, lack fragrance, and have 20-30 petals. The dry, star-shaped fruit is up to 3″ long and not edible. The seed, leaves and wood are toxic if ingested. The plants can be used as a hedge or screen, or made into a tree for a patio. The tolerance of the plants to wet soil and shade make them a good choice for rain, water, and shade gardens. The genus name, Illicium, comes from the Latin word illicere, meaning to allure, referring to the appealing fragrance of many species. The specific epithet, anisatum, comes from  Greek ἄνηθον ánēthon, the ancient Greek word for dill.

Type: Broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree

Outstanding Feature: Foliage

Form: Rounded to oval or pyramidal

Growth Rate: Slow to moderate

Bloom: Clusters of creamy-white flowers in spring

Size: 6-15’H x 4-8′ W

Light: Full sun to part shade; shade tolerant

Soil: Fertile, organically rich, moist, well-drained, acidic; tolerates wet soil

Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Care: Apply a balanced fertilizer monthly; occasionally prune to maintain shape or size and remove dead branches; can be made into a small tree

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Stem cuttings, layering, seed

Outstanding Selections:

‘HinPurlf’ (fragrant flowers, dark burgundy new foliage

Pink Stars’ (larger blush pink flowers)

‘Variegata’ (variegated foliage)

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen