The common anise (Pimpinella anisum L.), also called green anise, is an annual plant belonging to the family of Apiaceae or Ombelliferae. It belongs to plants known as Anice as well as Illicium verum and Xanthoxylum piperitium.
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Kingdom Plantae, the Tracheobionte Substitution, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Magnoliopsida Class, the Rosidae Subclass, the Apiales Order, the Apiaceae Family and then the Pimpinella Genus and the P. anisum Species.
The term Pimpinella could be derived from the alteration of the Latin word “bipenne = bipenne” bipened to indicate the 2 to 2 position of its leaflets. According to other authors it comes from the diminutive of “pampinus”, pampas for the resemblance of the leaves to those of the vine or, finally, correspondence to the Italian of the rosacea Sanguisorba, always by the resemblance of the leaves. Anisum, on the other hand, comes from Greek “anison” and is of uncertain foreign origin.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The common anise is probably originally from Asia and has been cultivated for long time in southern Europe while it is spontaneous in Egypt, Greece and the Middle East. In Italy, a plant is referred to as casual archeophyte in some regions.
Its habitat is that of an aromatic and medicinal plant, rarely subspontanea, which grows and develops between sea level and 800 mt.
The common anise is a herbaceous species of annual type, often finely pubescent, with strong aromatic odor. Its stem is cylindrical streaked, erect and pubescent high up to 50 cm. It has primordial leaves with long-pinned, rounded lamina, these are, sometimes, roughed and marginal; The lower ones of the stem are pinned to 3-5 segments, the upper ones are from pennatoise to bi or tripnoted with linear-lanceolate segments; The petiole is slit into an amphetamine sheath.
The flowers are umbrellas composed of 7-15 rays supporting small flowers with white petals, usually without brattee or very rarely, filiform brattees.
As we said, anisum pimpinella is an annual herb plant, which is essentially cultivated for seed; The anise produces fleshy roots, which can easily be damaged by a transplant; for this reason, it is usually sown directly to the home in a sunny plot. Sowing is done at the end of winter or early spring as soon as the night minimum starts to rise; It can be carried out on a fresh, well-drained soil, not necessarily rich; The plant also supports sandy or gravel soils, as it can survive even in drought conditions. Of course, young seedlings need regular watering, which must be provided whenever the soil is dry; With the continuation of the season, and the development of plants, watering can become less intense, as the plant becomes more resistant to water shortages. The flowering takes place in the summer, and the seeds are harvested towards the end of summer. For a greater concentration of essential oil in the seeds it is important that the plants are in a sunny area and that they do not receive excessive irrigation at least during the last week of ripening. The seeds are still harvested green, and are then dried in the sun.
These plants are not subject to particular parasites; What is generally more worried about who cultivates the Pimpinella anisum are the aphids, which are mostly affected by large inflorescences; However, aphids are lurking in conditions of excessive tenderness of young jets and that is why the content of nitrous compounds in the soil that can, at certain times, facilitate the excessive growth (and therefore tenderness of the young jets) must be prevented. The use of synthesis insecticides is not advised, so timely treatments are essential but made with natural products: this is to prevent insects remain on the plant even at harvest time, but above all the drift of active ingredients even after the treatment. As with all plant species, the use of species with aphid species is always a good technique, but nowadays not very useful, but of utmost agronomic interest. Hardly these plants are attacked by fungi, unless they are grown in areas that are not very consonant with their development, shaded and very moist.
The Anice needs very sunny places to grow to the best, loves hot places and it prefers areas with long, very hot summers. When the temperature drops below -5 ° C grow in a cold greenhouse, in full sunlight / sunlight. Outdoors is preferable instead in the sun. Repair from cold and dry winds.
The Anice likes rich, fertile lands, certainly very well drained, and dry.
For fertilization, as noted, it is advised not to supply nitrogenous synthesis compounds for the administration of organic compounds but in non-high amounts to avoid a very high vegetative growth which, in addition to the aphid and other insects and pathologies, The organoleptic quality would decrease.
Pruning occurs with thinning if there is excessive plant density.
Uses and Traditions –
Used parts of Pimpinella anisum consist of fruits harvested to full ripeness with the whole plant; Once the plants are tied in small bundles, they leave to dry in the shade, then proceed to the typing, separating the fruits; It then follows a sorting, eliminating impurities and foreign elements, and possibly further drying in the sun; The fruits are stored in paper bags in dry environments.
The main constituents are: from 1.5 to 5% of essential oil consisting of E-anethole (90-95%), extract (1-2%), terpenes, sesquiterpenes; Fat (15-20%) and coumarin, flavonoids.
The common anise carries its main activity: the digestive system with an anti-spasmodic action of the gastro-enteric, carminative, antifermentative and anti-reactive tube; The respiratory system performs balsamic and secretolytic action.
In internal use, the infusion is indicated as a regulator of digestive processes, thanks to the exciting action of intestinal peristalsis and simultaneous antispasmodic activity. Also highlight the antiseptic properties, useful in inhibiting fermentative phenomena associated with aerophagia and flatulence, although the carminative action is less potent than that of cumin or fennel.
For balsamic and secretolitic properties, the anise seeds are included in the preparation of pectoral herbs. In addition, the sweet and pleasant taste lends itself to the use of the drug as an otherwise unpleasant herbicide.
In popular medicine, the anise fruits fall into the preparation of galactic herbs that, in addition to stimulating the milk, give a pleasant taste to breast milk, while simultaneously practicing sedative and antispasmodic action on lactating.
As for toxicity and side effects, we can say that the use of herbal plant is safe, with the exception of allergic reactions in predetermined subjects. The danger of aniseed essential oil, whose use can cause toxic effects and, at high doses, drunkenness accompanied by tremor, should be stressed; In the case of chronic abuse, mental confusion and convulsions.
Anise has been known since antiquity, it is among the spices found in Egyptian archaeological sites, and was known to ancient Greeks and Romans.
The therapeutic value of aniseed “seeds” was already described in the first century AD from Christ by Dioscoride and praised by Pliny the Elder who attributed to anise the power to sleep and to preserve the youth of the face. Pliny himself is said to cultivate in Tuscany at the time of the Romans. In the Middle Ages it was also introduced and cultivated in Central Europe. Cited in the “Capitulare de villis” by Carlo Magno as a plant to be cultivated in gardens (a list of 73 herbs and 16 trees issued in about 795). Currently largely replaced by the fruits of the starry anise (Illicium verum Hook.f.) evergreen tropical tree, high in the 5-10 meters originally from East Asia and belonging to the Illiciaceae family.
During the Middle Ages anise spread from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe, where it is currently widely used in both sweet and savory recipes and widely cultivated.
To give an idea of its consumption just think that in 1305 the tolls charged on imports of anise seeds contributed to paying for repairs to the London Bridge.
Later, the anise was also imported to India and Central America, where it is the ingredient of traditional sweets such as Peruvian pikarones, or Mexican champagnes, sweet chocolate based drinks, anise and other spices, often served with churros.
Green anise is used in confectionery and liquorice, in the preparation of donuts and bread, medicines and veterinary medicine.
Anethole, which is the active ingredient present in the anise plant, is used to produce liqueurs, medicines and aromas generally used in pharmacy and pastry. Among the prepared liquors is the anisette, the ouzo greek, the Turkish raki or the most common sambuca and Varnelli.
A curiosity on the green anise is that in ice cream is used to create one of the most beloved children’s tastes, in which the blue color is added.
Preparation Method –
Although the common anise is a spice of Mediterranean origin, paradoxically it is less used in Italy than other exotic spices; The anise has an unmistakable taste, which blends both with sweet and savory dishes, and deserves a place of honor among the spices in the kitchen.
In the common anise, as well as in the preparation of liqueurs and candies, seeds are also used as spice, especially in Northern Europe. They come with spicy desserts, bread and cheese, meat or fish dishes, and are an ingredient of several spice blends.
Among the recipes prepared with the leaves of anise is the one of the piadina with gorgonzola, porulaca and aromatic herbs.
Aniseed seeds have balsamic and digestive properties, and are therefore excellent infused, as in the Middle East yansoon, an infusion obtained from chopped anice seeds.
Anise can be prepared in infusion also in conjunction with other spice seeds, as in the sweet Tisana recipe for spice seeds.
The anise aroma revives many spicy cakes, marrying very well with apples and other fruits. Sfoof is a Lebanese cake that contains anise, sesame and turmeric.
The anise likewise aromatizes beef and tender cheeses. Try the sweet aniseed Hamburger recipe, a homemade hamburger made of beef and ham, seasoned with anise, chili and raisins.
You can use anise seeds together with other spices such as cumin, sesame, fennel, carvi as a bread pan, breadsticks and spicy cakes.
Pimpinella seeds, also used as a simple spice, can be eaten to help the intestines and digestion. Seedlings are also good for this purpose as well as being effective in treating respiratory discomfort.
In the kitchen and pastry anise is very used in recipes as aroma and even in pharmaceuticals can be a flavoring to give a pleasing taste to the medications. As a liqueur, as mentioned, is known for ouzo greek, anisette and sambuca.
Pimpinella seed oil can be used for skin washing due to its antibacterial properties and for making fumes ie water vapor inhalations combined with a few drops of essential oil of pimpinella which with their expectorant effect will help the mucus expulsion and Of the cataract from the respiratory tract.
For this essence there are no particular contraindications except for the attention that must always be kept when taking products containing essential oils.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health of the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and Experiences with Medicinal Herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (eds.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Caution: Pharmaceutical applications and surgical uses are indicated for information purposes only; they are not prescription-related in any way; Therefore, no liability is accepted for their use for any aesthetic or food purpose.