Anise is one of a family of herbs including fennel and tarragon, often described as "anise-like". These herbs are very trendy in modern cuisine, but I've never been particularly fond of them.
Anise fruits (often incorrectly named "seeds")
Ground anise fruits
Eastern Mediterranean or Western Asia.
Turkey is an important producer today, but better quality anise originates from Spain.
Fruits (sometimes incorrectly called "seeds").
Apiaceae (parsley family).
Sweet and very aromatic. A similar fragrance to that of cicely.
The spice gained its Latin name anisum as a result of confusion with dill, known in Greek as anēson. Names of anise in virtually all European languages are derived from anisum.
The Sanskrit name shatapushpa means "one hundred flowers" and refers to the flower cluster. The Hindi name saunf properly denotes fennel, of which anise is incorrectly thought to be a foreign variety. To distinguish anise clearly from fennel, the specialised terms patli saunf "thin fennel" or vilayati saunf "foreign fennel" are often used. Some languages refer to the sweetness of anise, e.g. Greek glykaniso "sweet anise", or name anise as a sweet variant of other spices, e.g. Indonesian jinten manis and Arabic kamun halu "sweet cumin" (a name sometimes also used in English). Arabic has another, similar name habbu al-hulwa "sweet grains". The Portuguese term erva doce "sweet herb" may denote anise, fennel or sweetleaf (stevia rebaudiana).
The genus name pimpinella is Late Latin for "narrow-ribbed fruit".
During the Middle Ages, anise was found widely across Europe growing in monastic gardens accordance with Charlemagne's Capitulare de Villis. Nowadays its use has declined and in Western cuisine is mostly restricted to flavouring bread and cakes, although fruit products are occasionally aromatised with anise. In small dosage, anise seeds are sometimes contained in spice mixtures for sausages and stews. Their main applications are, however, anise-flavoured liqueurs, of which there are many in different Mediterranean countries including rakı in Turkey, ouzo in Greece and pernod in France. In many cases, oil of anise is partially or wholly substituted by oil of star anise in these products.
Several plants generate an aroma comparable to that of anise. Within the apiaceae (parsley) family, fennel and cicely copy the aroma of anise perfectly and chervil and dill also resemble anise, although their fragrance is less pure. In Far Eastern cuisines (India, Iran and Indonesia), no distinction is made between anise and fennel and the same name is usually given to both of them. In the Philippines star anise is very popular and is referred to as "anise" for short.