Illicium verum Hook.f.

Last updated: 19 Dec 2016

Scientific Name

Illicium verum Hook.f.


Illicium san-ki Perr, Illicium stellatum Makino [Unresolved]. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Bunga lawang, adas china, adas manis [2]
English True-star-anise, Chinese-anise, clove flowers, [2] star anise [3]
China Ba jiao hui xian, [2] ba jiao, pa cio hui hsiang [3]
Indonesia Bunga lawang (General), adas cina (General), pe ka (derived from Chinese) [4]
Thailand Chinpaetklip, poikak [4]
Philippines Sanque, sangke (Tagalog, Cebuano) [4]
Cambodia Phka chann, pôch kak lavhav [4]
Vietnam Bat giac hoi huong, hoi, [3] H[oof]i, hoi sao, b[as]t gi[as]c h[uw][ow]ng [4]
France Anis étoilé, [3] badianier, anis de Chine [4]
Spain Anis estrella [3].

Geographical Distributions

Illicium verum is most probably originated from south-eastern China (Guangxi, Guangdong, Fujian, Guizhou and Yunnan) and northern Indo-China (Laos, Vietnam). It is also cultivated in Hainan, Taiwan and Japan. [4]

Botanical Description

I. verum is a member of Schisandraceae family. [1] It is an evergreen tree which can grow up to 8-15(-20) m tall. [4]

Thetrunk diameter at breast height measures up to 25 cm and its bark is white. [4]

The leaves are arranged alternately, simple, coriaceous and with dotted glands. The petiole is about 1 cm long. The blade is elliptical to obovate or lance-shaped, measuring 5-15 cm x 1.5-5 cm, with entire margin, and acute at apex while pubescent at the lower side. [4]

The flowers are axillary, solitary, bisexual, regular, measuring 1-1.5 cm in diameter, and white-pink to red or greenish-yellow. The pedicel is 0.5-1 cm long. There are 7-12 perianth lobes that are arranged spirally. There are 11-20 stamens that are arranged spirally with short and thick filaments. There are usually 8 carpels which are free and arranged in a single whorl. [4]

The fruit is a capsule-like follicetum, measuring 2.5-4.5 cm in diameter and consists of an agregate of (5-)8(-13) follicles which are arranged around a central axis in the shape of a star (hence the name star anise). Each follicle is boat-shaped, 1-2 cm long, rough, rigid, reddish-brown, contains 1 seed and splits along the ventral edge when ripens. The smooth and glossy seed is subcylindrical to compressed ovoid, measuring 8-9 mm x 6 mm, light brown, containing copious and oily endosperm. [4]


The ecological requirements of I. verum are not well-known. Its main cultivation areas lie in the cooler tropics and subtropics at altitudes up to 2000 m, with average annual temperatures of 12-18°C, average annual precipitation of 1000-2000 mm and with soils with a pH of about 5.8. [4]

Chemical Constituent

I. verum seed was found to contain phenolic glucoside (e.g.  4-(β-d-glucopyranosyloxy)benzoic acid). [5]

I. verum was found to contain sesquiterpenoid compounds (e.g. veranisatins A, B, and C). [6]

I. verum was found to contain phenylpropanoids and lignans. [7].

Essential oil extract from I. verum dried fruit was found to contain anethole. [8]

Plant Part Used

Entire plant, leaf, fruit, and seed. [2]

Traditional Use

The fruit of Illicium verum Hook f. is used for its carminative, antirheumatic, stomachic, stimulant and vermifuge properties [9][10][11]. Its uses for hernias, lumbago, beri-beri, nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach have also been reported [12]. Star anise infusions are also frequently used in the treatment of infant colic [13].

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

The component of I. verum, anethole [1-methoxy-4-(1-propenyl)-benzene] exhibited potent antimicrobial activity. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) studies performed with isolated anethole, showed that it is effective against different microorganisms including bacteria, yeast, and fungal strains [14]. The antibacterial activity of I. verum Hook against periodontopathic bacteria, particularly Eikenella corrodens was reported recently [15].

Insecticidal activity

The insecticidal effect of I. verum fruit, attributed by the fumigant activity of (E)-anethole against Blattella germanica adults was documented [16]. There was a study about the potential of hexane extract of I. verum fruit as a grain protectant against Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) and Sitlphilus zeamais Motsch [17]. The methanol extract of I. verum fruit showed insecticidal effects against adults of rice weevil, Sitophilus oryzae (L.) and the adzuki bean weevil, Callosobruchus chinensis (L.) [18].


Veranisatins from Illicium verum showed convulsion and lethal toxicity in mice at an oral dose of 3mg/kg, while at lower doses side effects of hypothermia was observed. [6]

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: Line drawing of Illicium verum Hook.f.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Illicium verum Hook.f.[homepage on the Internet] .c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Dec 19] Available from:
  2. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 52.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 554.
  4. Vu Ngoc L. Illicium verum Hook.f. In: de Guzman CC, Siemonsma JS, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 13: Spices. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 130-134.
  5. Dirks U, Herrmann K. 4-(β-d-glucopyranosyloxy)benzoic acid, a characteristic phenolic constituent of the Apiaceae. Phytochemistry. 1984;23:1811-1812.
  6. Nakamura T, Okuyama E, Yamazaki M. Neurotropic componenets from star anise (Illicium verum Hook Fil). Chem Pharm Bull. 1996;44(10):1908-1914.
  7. Sy LK, Brown GD. Novel phenylpropanoids and lignanas from Illicium verum. J Nat Prod. 1998;61(8):987-992.
  8. Tuan DQ, Ilangantileke SG. Liquid CO2 extraction of essential oil from Star anise fruits (Illicium verum H). J Food Eng. 1997;31:47-57.
  9. Claus EP, Tyler VE. Pharmacognosy, 5th Ed. Philadelphia: Lea and Gebiger; 1965.
  10. Trease GE, Evan WC. Pharmacognosy. 10th Ed. London: Bailliere Tindall, 1972; p. 381.
  11. Perry LM. Medicinal plants of East and Southeast Asia. Massuchusetts: MIT Press, 1980; p. 180.
  12. Lu HC. 1989. Chinese System of food cures, prevention and remedies. Kuala Lumpur: Pelanduk Publications, 1989; p. 461.
  13. Campos GM, Navero PJL, Ibarra R. Convulsive status secondary to star anise poisoning in a neonate. An Esp Pediatr, 2002;57(4):366-368. Spanish.
  14. De M, De A K, Sen P. Antimicrobial properties of star anise (Illicium verum Hook f). Phytother Res. 2002;16(1):94-95.
  15. Iauk L, Lo BA, Milazzo I, Rapisarda A, Blandino G. Antibacterial activity of medicinal plant extracts against periodontopathic bacteria. Phytother Res. 2003;17(6):599-604.
  16. Chang KS, Ahn YJ. Fumigant activity of (E)-anethole identified in Illicium verum fruit against Blattella germanica. Pest Manag Sci. 2002;58(2):161-166.
  17. Ho SH, Ma Y, Goh PM, Sim K. Star anise, Illicium verum Hook f. as a potential grain protectant against Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) and Sitophiluls zeamais Motsch. Postharvest Biol Tec. 1995;6:341-347.
  18. Kim SI, Roh JY, Kim DH, Lee HS, Ahn YJ. Insecticidal activities of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils against Sitophilus oryzae and Callosobruchus chinensis. J Stored Prod Res. 2003;39:293-303.