Star Anise has to be one of the more interesting things that people can eat! It’s shaped like the type of star you learn to draw when you’re in kindergarten and then promptly forget how to draw, simply applying it to all your papers by muscle memory alone. Sometimes it’s got five arms, sometimes it’s got more, just depends on genetics and how it grew. Star Anise, Illicium verum, will most frequently have eight arms however, and the Cantonese name for the spice, “baht gokh” means “eight points.” The arms can also be called carpals or petals, and if it’s got eight or more it’s thought to be good luck. You will find that your star anise will have between 5 and 12 arms.
Mostly composed on anethole, star anise has an essential oil content that ranges from 2.5% to 3.5%.
As it is used globally, Star Anise has names in various languages. In Arabic, it is “albadyan,” in Mandarin it is “bah jiao,” in French it will be called either “anis etoile” or “anis de la Chine,” in German it’s “sternanis,” in Hindi it’s “chakriphool,” for Japanese speakers the name is “suta anis,” for speakers of Portuguse the name is “anis estelado,” it’s “badyan” in Russian, and in Spanish it can be called “badian estrella” or “anis estrella.” It may also be called badian, staranise, or star aniseseed.