Star anise (Illicium verum) comes from an evergreen tree native to tropical East Asia. The fragrant part is the pericarp surrounding the seeds, which are picked just before the fruit ripens. The Chinese name for the spice translates as ‘8 horns’, as there are typically 8 points to the fruit. Star anise along with fennel, cloves, cinnamon and Szechuan peppercorns are ground to make Chinese five-spice powder, which is an essential ingredient in Sichuan cuisine. Surprisingly, most of the world’s star anise harvest is used in the production of the influenza drug Tamiflu as it contains a high concentration of shikimic acid, which is a precursor of the active ingredient in the medicine.
Try this star anise wreath activity to fill your home with a lovely festive scent this Christmas.