Monday, January 18, 2010

Illicium - Anise Tree

A genus of 40 or more species of evergreen shrubs and trees native to the Americas, eastern Asia and India.
The foliage on most species are glossy deep green.
The Illiciums generally prefer partial shade on moist, acidic, humus-rich, well drained soil. They can however tolerate full sun however wilt easily if they become dry. Propagation is typically from half hardened cuttings taken in summer though can also be from layering which on these easily form new plants. Seed germinates easily with no pretreatment.
Very deer resistant ( toxic if eaten ), insect and disease problems are very rare.

Illicium anisatum ( Japanese Star Anise )
Also called Illicium religiosum. A slow growing, dense, pyramidal, evergreen, shrub to small tree, that is native to Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 2 feet; 10 years - 10 feet; largest on record - 33 x 20 feet. It is commonly used by Buddhist in its native range to decorate temples and cemetaries.
The smooth-edged, lance-shaped to elliptical leaves are up to 5 x 1.6 inches in size. The aromatic, leathery foliage is glossy deep green.
The inch wide, creamy-yellow, star-shaped flowers borne in early spring are not fragrant.
They are followed by poisonous, star-shaped woody fruit. This species is not edible and is in fact extremely toxic and should not be mixed up with Illicum verum.
The smooth bark is purplish-brown.
Hardy zones 6 to 9 ( tolerating -10 F ) in partial to full shade on just about any well drained soil. It is drought and clay tolerant, thriving in the southeastern U.S..

* photo of unknown internet source


There is also a variegated form as well as a form with bronze-purple foliage contrasting with orange flowers.

Illicium floridanum ( Florida Anise Tree )
A bushy evergreen large shrub to small tree reaching around 15 feet that is native to wet soils of the southeast U.S from Louisiana to Florida. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate- 3 feet; 10 years - 10 x 5 feet ( average ); largest on record - 30 x 26 feet with a trunk diameter of 1 foot. It makes a great evergreen screen due to its dense habit.
The slender lance-shaped leaves are up to 8.5 x 3 ( rarely over 6 ) inches in size. The leathery foliage is deep green though a form sold by Rare Find Nursery in New Jersey has variegated foliage that is light green to gold centered.
The showy, numerous petalled, red-purple, starfish-shaped flowers, up to 2 inches across are borne late spring and early summer.
The bark is dark brown and smooth to slightly furrowed with age.
Hardy zones 6 to 9 ( reports of 5 on protected sites ) in full sun to partial shade ( partial shade where summers are very hot ). While it makes a great evergreen screen, it is not a topiary plant and should not be sheared. Propagation is easy from seed collected immediately upon ripening then sown indoors. It should germinate within a few weeks.

* photos taken @ Green Spring Gardens, Annandale, VA

* photo taken on March 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photos taken on May 1 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.







* photo taken on May 6 2010 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo of unknown internet source


* photo taken on May 7 2014 @ London Town Gardens, Edgewater, MD

* photos taken on Apr 17 2016 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photos taken on Apr 23 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken on May 27 2017 @ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA


'Alba'
Pure white flowers. 'Semmes White' is very similar to 'Alba' but heavier blooming

'Haley'
More vigorous, profuse blooming spring and fall. The flowers are deep red.

'Shady Lady'
Has gray-green foliage that is broadly-margined white. The light pink flowers are up to an inch across.

Illicium henryi ( Henry Anise Tree )
A moderate growing, dense, pyramidal, evergreen, small tree, reaching around 25 x 10 feet, that is native to southwestern and central China. Some records include: 10 years - 12 x 5 feet; largest on record - 40 x 12 feet. It makes a great screening plant.
The oblanceolate leaves are up to 8 x 2.4 inches in size. The leathery foliage is glossy deep green above, pale green beneath.
The dark red flowers, up to 1.5 inches across, are borne during late spring.
They are followed by poisonous fruits up to an inch in size, during late summer to mid-autumn.
It is hardy from zones 6 to 9 and is the most drought hardy of all Illiciums and is known to withstand -28 F in central Pennsylvania with no damage. Grows well in sun or deep shade and is both drought and wet soil tolerant. It thrives in both the eastern U.S. as well as the Pacific Northwest.

* photo taken on Feb 2009 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.



Illicium mexicanum ( Mexican Anise Tree )
An attractive, evergreen, small tree native to Mexico reaching up to 10 x 6 feet in 10 years and up to 25 x 20 feet after many decades. It is very closely related to Illicium floridanum.
The ovate leaves are up to 10 x 5 ( rarely over 6 x 1.5 ) inches in size. The foliage is glossy deep green.
The vivid violet-red flowers up to 2.5 inches across are borne in late spring though may also occur randomly throughout the summer.
Hardy zones 7 to 9 ( tolerating 0 F ) in partial shade on moist, well drained soil. It thrives in the Pacific Northwest as long as it has regular summer water.

* photo taken on Mar 7 2013 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

Illicium parviflorum ( Yellow Anise Tree )
An excellent but underused very vigorous landscape plant that is native to moist woods and swamps from southwest Georgia to central Florida. It is also much hardier than its native range suggests growing from zones 6 through 9. It typically forms a large shrub to 15 feet. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 3 feet; 5 years - 6 x 6.5 feet; 10 years - 10 x 10 feet; largest on record 40 x 16 feet. It can be used as an excellent screen but can also be pruned by removing lower branches to form a stunning, multi-stemmed small tree ( excellent for patio areas ). It can be used as a formal hedge however pruning is preferrably done by hand pruners to avoid slicing the large leaves.
The Yellow Anise is an excellent background plant for Azaleas.
Unlike other Illiciums; this one may form a suckering colony if left alone.
The alternately-arranged leaves are up to 9 x 2.5 inches in size. They are glossy green above and dull light green beneath.
The leaf contains up to 90% safrole, which is cause for this plants pleasant root beer scent (like Sassafras).
The yellow-green flowers up to 0.75 inches across are borne during spring ( often sporadically into autumn ).
They are followed by star shaped woody seed capsules up to an inch across.
Unlike Illicium verum; the Yellow Anise is not edible and should not be consumed.
Hardy zones 6 to 9 in sun or shade though plants in full sun tend to fade to a yellow-green instead of rich deep green. It prefers moist soil but is tolerant of periods of drought, flooding and salt and is rarely bothered by insects or disease. It thrives in most of the southeastern ( eastern Texas and Arkansas eastward ) and Mid Atlantic U.S.
Cuttings root easily.

* photos of unknown internet origin

* photo taken on May 1 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on July 11 2014 in Washington, DC

* photo taken on Apr 4 2017 in Elkridge, MD


* photo taken on Sep 7 2017 in Columbia, MD


'Florida Sunshine'
Foliage is bright yellow at first before deepening to intense lime-green. Not as large though still vigorous, reaching up to 6 feet in height in 10 years, eventually more. The contrast between the foliage and the red twigs makes this an especially attractive plant.

'Forest Green'
Very full with very deep green foliage. Vigorous growing, reaching up to 15 x 10 feet in 10 years. Very tough and easy to grow.

Illicium simonsii
An attractive, moderate growing, dense, pyramidal, evergreen, small tree, reaching around 3o feet, that is native to the Himalayas from northeast India to southwest China; south to northern Burma. Some records include: 10 years - 12 feet; largest on record - 50 feet.
The lance-shaped to elliptical leaves are up to 4 x 1.5 inches in size. The leathery foliage is glossy deep green.
The creamy-yellow flowers, up to 1.5 inches wide, are borne early through late spring, however may repeat at times throughout the year.
Hardy zones 8 to 10 in full sun to partial shade, it would likely thrive in the Pacific Northwest.

Illicium verum ( Star Anise )
A rounded, evergreen, small tree reaching around 30 feet or more that is native to Guangxi Province of China as well as northern Vietnam. Some records include: largest on record - 66 x 40 feet.
The attractive, elliptical leaves are up to 7 x 2 inches in size. The foliage is glossy deep green with a prominent middle vein.
The blooms, up to an inch across are whitish-yellow deepening to dark pink or purple-red. They appear during mid to late spring, often repeating during late summer to mid autumn.
They are followed by starshaped shiny brown fruits called "Star Anise" that is used both medicinally as well as a spice.
Hardy zone 8 to 11.

Illicium 'Woodland Ruby'
It is the hybrid between Illicium floridanum & Illicium mexicanum. A moderate growing, dense, pyramidal, medium-sized, evergreen shrub, reaching up to 6 x 5 feet in 10 years, eventually up to 10 x 8 feet. The foliage is glossy deep green.
The deep red flowers appear during early to mid summer.
Hardy zones 7 to 9, it is tolerant of both drought and temporary flooding, making it useful for floodplain habitats as well as upland sites.

* photos taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

* photos taken on Aug 24 2017 @ U.S. Botanic Garden, Wash. DC.

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