Illicium floridanum

2019 – Florida Anise Tree

 Despite the common name, this rapidly growing, broadleaf evergreen shrub grows 6-10 feet tall and 4-8 feet wide. It is native to the southeastern United States and northern Mexico, and can be found in moist, wooded areas. One of its most attractive characteristics is the maroon-purple star-like blooms. The flower is 1-2 inches in diameter and blooms April-May. These unique flowers have a pungent fragrance and are pollinated by flies and beetles. The foliage has a strong spicy fragrance when crushed, which makes this plant unpalatable to deer. Florida Anise Tree thrives in moist, well-drained, and highly organic soil, and partial to full shade. Although native to the deep south, Illicium floridanum has proved winter hardy at Jenkins for over 30 years.

This plant was first discovered in 1766 and entered into cultivation shortly after. Some popular cultivars include ‘Alba’, which has a white bloom, ‘Halley’s Comet’, which has larger red blooms, and ‘Shady Lady’, which has light pink flowers and variegated foliage.