- Name also: Anis, Aniseed, Anise Burnet Saxifrage (USA)
- Family: Carrot Family – Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
- Growing form: Annual herb.
- Height: 10–30 cm (4–12 in.). Stem hairy, hollow, joints with septa. Fragrant.
- Flower: Corolla regular, white, less than 5 mm (0.2 in.) wide (outer corollas often slightly zygomorphic and bigger than others), petals 5, notched, with an incurved point. Sepals stunted. Stamens 5. Pistil of 2 fused carpels, styles 2. Inflorescence a compound umbel, secondary umbels 7–15. Primary umbels with no bracts, secondary umbels with thread-like or bracteoles missing.
- Leaves: Alternate, stalked, base pod-like. Blade of basal leaves kidney-shaped, serrate–shallowly lobed. Blade of stem leaves 2–3 times pinnate, leaflets lobed.
- Fruit: Egg-shaped, flattened from the sides, 3–5 mm (0.12–0.2 in.) long two-parted schizocarp, with clinging straight hairs, clearly serrated.
- Habitat: Spice plant, sometimes as an escape in the surroundings of habitation, loading areas, waste lands.
- Flowering time: June–August.
Anise is one of the oldest known spice and medicinal plants. It was used as early as 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Anise does not grow wild – it is probably originally a native plant from the Middle East, but it has been an indigenous plant in the Mediterranean area since times immemorial. Today it is still widely cultured in the Mediterranean countries as well as in Bulgaria, Southern Russia, India, Mexico and in some parts of South America. Anise is also grown in Finland, but nowadays the strains imported from abroad, from which seeds are generally available, do not produce fruit in our climate. Still, the plant is occasionally seen as an alien in the surroundings of habitation.
The pleasant-tasting oil of the schizocarp of the anise can be used as a medicinal remedy or spice. Most of all, it is used as a spice for alcoholic drinks – anisette, ouzo, pastis and raki among others all taste of anise. The pimpinella mentioned in old texts as a spice for wine and liquor could be anise, but more often it is probably the salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) – both of which plants are today called pimpinella. Anise is also added to many medicines to cover the unpleasant taste of other drugs. Correctly dosed, anise oil can also be used as a remedy in itself, to relax nervous cramps and to ease gas. The remedy can however become a poison: in large doses anise oil is poisonous, especially if it has not been stored in an airtight container.