Anise or Aniseed, less commonly anís (stressed on the second syllable) (Pimpinella anisum), is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native to the eastern Mediterranean region and southwest Asia. It is a herbaceous annual plant growing to 1m tall. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, 2-5 cm long and shallowly lobed, while leaves higher on the stems are feathery pinnate, divided into numerous leaflets. The flowers are white, 3 mm diameter, produced in dense umbels. The fruit is an oblong dry schizocarp, 3-5 mm long.
Pimpinella species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the lime-speck pug and wormwood pug.
Containing liquorice-like components, anise is sweet and very aromatic. It is used to make the following confectioneries: Aniseed balls (Britain), Aniseed wheels (New Zealand), pizzelles (Italy), pfeffernusse (Germany), and Knotts (Norway). Aniseed is also used to make the Mexican drink atole or champurrado which is similar to hot chocolate, the Turkish drink Raki (alcoholic beverage), the Italian Sambuca, some Root beer such as Virgil's Root Beer in the United States, and as a digestive after meals in India.
Anise is a mild antiparasitic and its leaves can be used to treat digestive problems, relieve toothache, and its essential oil to treat lice and scabies.
In aromatherapy, aniseed essential oil is used to treat colds and flu.
According to Pliny the Elder, anise was used as a cure for sleeplessness, chewed with alexanders and a little honey in the morning to freshen the breath, and when mixed with wine as a remedy for scorpion stings (N.H. 20.72).
In the Mediterranean, aniseed is used in producing alcoholic beverages, such as Arak (Morocco), Ouzo (Greece) and Raki in Turkey.
In Indian cuisine, no distinction is made between anise and fennel. Therefore, the same name (saunf) is usually given to both of them. Some use the term patli (thin) saunf or velayati (foreign) saunf to distinguish anise from fennel
In Egypt boiling water is poured over about a tablespoon of aniseed in a teacup to make a hot tea.
Builders of steam locomotives in Britain incorporated capsules of aniseed oil into white metal bearings, so that the distinctive smell would give warning in case of overheating.
Anise can be made into a liquid scent and is used for both hunting and fishing. Anise smells similar to liquorice and is put on fishing lures to attract fish. Anethole, the principal component of anise oil is a precursor that can eventually produce 2,5-dimethoxybenzaldehyde which is used in the clandestine synthesis of psychedelic drugs such as 2C-B, 2C-I and DOB.
Anise is also the main flavor of Absinthe as well as being used as a flavoring for pastis, ouzo, pernod, sambuca, rakı, Becherovka, anice tutone, Chartreuse and other liqueurs. Anise has a particular effect on some dogs that parallels the effect of catnip on house cats. Some cats as well seem attracted to anise. Anise is perfectly safe for cats and dogs alike to ingest.