Star Anise (Illicium Verum) is a star shaped fruit from an Evergreen Tree that is native to China. These trees can bear fruit for over a century. The tree bears yellow flower that ripens into a brown star shaped spice. The Star Anise seeds are not as aromatic and flavorful as the pod. Star Anise is an important spice in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking and is an essential ingredient in the Chinese five spice powder. Star Anise is not the same as Anise Seed. Both Star Anise and Anise Seed share an essential oil called Anethole (Licorice Taste) which is why these spices have a similar flavor. Star Anise has more of a robust flavor than the Anise Seed. Star Anise is rusty brown, star shaped ranging from 1" to 1-1/2" wide.
Star anise can be added whole to a recipe or ground. To grind, use a spice mill or food processor. When added whole, the star may be removed or used as a garnish after the cooking period.