Anise is a flowering plant that emits a black licorice, fennel-scented aroma that undoubtedly entices the palate.
As an annual lacy-leaved, white flowering plant native to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, anise grows about three feet tall. Anise is very easy to grow from seed and prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Drop the seed in your garden and cover lightly with soil at the onset of your warm season. Space the plants about one-and-one-half feet apart., rows about one foot from another. Water the anise plant weekly for complete, healthy growth. After the head of the flower has dried, collect the anise seeds and dry them in a cool, dark area. Once stored in an airtight container, the anise seed will last several months. The seeds produced by the flowering anise plant can either be used whole, ground to a fine texture, or even used as pure anise oil or extract.
The seed is what omits the tasty oil that is a key enhancement to multicultural cuisine, baked goods and liqueurs such as Anisette. Anise is also a key element in black jelly beans and Italian pizzelle.
One can get anise oil by boiling the plant in water without letting the vapors evaporate. The condensed vapors are what produces the oil.
Anise extract comes from taking the anise oil and mixing with other properties, such as alcohol and glycerol. This form is not as pure as anise oil, but some continue to use this less expensive form in their cuisine.
Medicinally, anise has herbal properties that aid in easing or deterring certain conditions. Anise seeds can be used as a breath freshener, or when steeped in hot water with or without a tea bag, flavored with lemon and sugar or honey can be used as a throat soother, indigestion reliever, gas reducer, or an easeful sleep aid. Anise has also been known to relieve menstrual cramps, and the essential oil has been used as an insecticide to treat head lice and mites. Anise can be used as an appetite stimulant, to treat asthma or bronchitis, baby colic, morning sickness, emphysema, colds, or pneumonia. The leaves from anise can help relieve toothache when applied directly to the tooth.
The essential oil of anise can be used as an aromatic scent in a household diffuser to provide a therapeutic ambiance.
If fishing is your pastime, adding the oil to your fishing lure has been known to attract fish.