Illicium anisatum

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Japanese star anise
Illicium anisatum - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-075.jpg
Japanese star anise
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Order: Austrobaileyales
Family: Schisandraceae
Genus: Illicium
Species: I. anisatum
Binomial name
Illicium anisatum

Illicium anisatum, with common names Japanese star anise,[1] aniseed tree,[1] and sacred anise tree,[1] known in Japan as Shikimi (, シキミ), is a tree closely related to the Chinese star anise. Since it is highly toxic, the fruit is not edible; instead, the dried and powdered leaves are burned as incense in Japan. Its branches and evergreen leaves are considered sacred by Japanese Buddhists[2] due to its ability to remain fresh after pruning.

Illicium anisatum is native to Japan. It is similar to I. verum (Chinese star anise), but its fruit is smaller and with weaker odor, which is said to be more similar to cardamom than to anise. While it is poisonous and therefore unsuitable for using internally, it is used for treatment of some skin problems in traditional Chinese medicine.[citation needed]. Additionally, due to its poisonous nature it has been used to kill fish.[2] Another nickname for the shrub is "Kono-Hana" due to strong incense scent, notably used in Medieval Japan for layering the soil of the graves to repel animals from digging the ground.

Use of leaves eg in tea[edit]

Japanese star anise [tea/leaves?] contains anisatin, shikimin, and sikimitoxin, which cause severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract, and digestive organs.[citation needed] Other compounds present in [leaves?] toxic species of Illicium are safrole and eugenol, which are not present in I. verum and are used to identify its adulteration. Shikimi gave its name to shikimic acid, a substance also present in the plant.

Cases of illness, including serious neurological effects such as seizures, that have been reported after using star anise tea may be a result of using this species instead of Chinese star anise (Illicium verum).[3][4][5]

It is impossible to distinguish Chinese and Japanese star anise in its dried or processed form by its appearance only, due to morphological similarities between the species.[citation needed]

Cases of product recalls have been reported when products containing star anise were found to be contaminated by Japanese anise.[3] Cases of consumers admitted to hospital with neurological symptoms after ingesting excessive doses of star anise or smaller doses of products adulterated with Japanese anise were described, as well.[3]

Essential oil components[edit]

The essential oil of air-dried I. anisatum obtained by hydrodistillation [of leaves?] was analyzed by GC–MS. Fifty-two components were identified in the essential oil, and the main component was eucalyptol (21.8%).[6]

Anisatin and its derivatives are suspected of acting as strong GABA antagonists.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Simpson, Michael (2010). Plant Systematics. Elsevier. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-12-374380-0. 
  3. ^ a b c FDA Issues Advisory on “Teas”: Teas Made from Star Anise Were Associated With Illnesses Including Seizures, US Food and Drug Administration.
  4. ^ Neurotoxicities in infants seen with the consumption of star anise tea.
  5. ^ Perret C, Tabin R, Marcoz JP, Llor J, Cheseaux JJ "Apparent life-threatening event in infants: think about star anise intoxication!". Arch Pediatr. 2011 Jul;18(7):750-3.
  6. ^ JI-YOUNG KIM et all, Chemical composition, antioxidant, anti-elastase, and anti-inflammatory activities of Illicium anisatum essential oil, Acta Pharm. 59 (2009) 289-300.