Illicium verum is a medium-sized native evergreen tree of northeast Vietnam and southwest China. A spice commonly calledstar anise, star anise seed, or Chinese star anise that closely resembles anise in flavor is obtained from the star-shapedpericarp of the fruit of Illicium velum which are harvested just before ripening. Star anise oil is a highly fragrant oil used in cooking, perfumery, soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and skin creams. About 90% of the world's star anise crop is used for extraction of shikimic acid, a chemical intermediate used in the synthesis of oseltamivir.
Star anise contains anethole, the same ingredient that gives the unrelated anise its flavor. Recently, star anise has come into use in the West as a less expensive substitute for anise in baking, as well as in liquor production.