Illicium – Yellow Anise

‘Pink Frost’ shown in front with ‘Florida Sunshine’ in rear.

Illicium is a multi-stemed upright shrub native to the Southeast.  This bright and showy plant has beautiful chartreuse green/gold foliage that brightens in fall with stems turning deep red.  It goes by numerous common names such as yellow anise, anise tree, yellow anise tree, swamp star anise, small anise tree – all with the anise name due to it’s anise or licorice scent of the glossy oval leaves. Illicium parviflorum ‘Florida Sunshine’ is a particularly good cultivar tried in this area.   It also blooms small white flowers in spring.  Illicium parviflorum is tolerant of a wide variety of soil conditions and is highly adaptable however, it thrives in moist soil where it grows rapidly.  Another cultivar we love is Illicium floridanum ‘Pink Frost’ a splendid variegated variety that is so named because it turns pink in fall and blooms maroon-red flowers in spring.  ‘Miss Scartlet’ is a new and distinctive variety from the Southern Living Plant Collection.  It blooms brilliant & unique star-shapped crimson flowers in spring. Blooms are vibrant against compact, evergreen plants with bright, glossy, green leaves.  Another interesting cultivar is ‘Woodland Ruby’, a hybrid variety featuring beautiful ruby red flowers.

Illicium can be grown in that spot at the end of the downspout where nothing else seems to be happy.  It will tolerate, but grow slower, in dry conditions.  It prefers dappled shade tolerating some morning sun but hot afternoon sun should be avoided.  Plants grow 6-8 ft wide and 4-6 ft tall.  Illicium foliage is generally deer resistant.

Another Illicium we love is Illicium anisatum ‘Purple Glaze’, a new introduction famous for it’s beautiful burgundy purple growth.