Nematology (Botany) Circular No. 19 Fla. Dept. (f Agr. & Q r erv.
August, 1976 Division of Plant Indust
MAR 26 1987
ILLICIUM PARVIFLORUM, CORRECT NA
FOR THE ANISETREE OF THE FLORIDA NURSER TRA tiVerSity Of Florida
K. R. Langdon
For many years a plant known as anisetree has been propagated and sold by
Florida nurserymen under the Latin name of Illicium anisatum. This plant,
however, did not match the technical description of I. anisatum L. A study
was initiated in order to determine conclusively the correct species of this
The anisetree, as cultivated in Florida, is used mainly as a hedge plant and
occasionally as a specimen plant. It is a medium to large shrub or occasion-
ally a small tree. It makes an excellent untrimmed or informally trimmed
hedge. With good growing conditions it produces a dense growth of thick,
medium green leaves which are fragrant when bruised. It grows rapidly with
adequate water and fertilization, but will tolerate considerable neglect.
It also tolerates a wide variety of soils, but does best on moist, fertile
soils with adequate organic matter.
The anisetree of the Florida nursery trade keyed in different taxonomic
keys (1, 2) to Illicium parviflorum Michx. ex Vent,, one of our two native
species, and not to the oriental I. anisatum, by which name it was called.
I. parviflorum is native in a small area in the Ocala National Forest along
the west side of Lake George from near Salt Springs southward and along the
St. Johns River to about the southern end of the forest, with a few isolated
locations elsewhere. It grows along stream banks in moist soil of highorganic
content. It is abundant in a few scattered sites but is generally absent in
the intervening areas.
The following description of I. parviflorum essentially follows that of Smith
(2): Large, spreading shrub to 7 m tall (sometimes to 13 m in cultivation),
branchlets brown to grayish, slender, 2-4 mm diam; leaves irregularly alter-
nate; petioles 1-1.5 mm diam, 8-16 mm long (to 25 mm in cultivation); leaf
blades leathery, dull green to olivaceous (to glossy, medium green on vigor-
ous specimens in open), narrowly elliptic to obovate-elliptic, 6-12 cm long,
2-5 cm broad (or larger in cultivation), acute at base, rounded to broadly
obtuse or faintly emarginate at apex, margin narrowly revolute, midvein smooth
above, prominent beneath, side veins usually 4-7 pairs, not prominent. Flowers
axillary or subterminal, 1-3 together; subtending bracts several, papery,
ovate-deltoid, rounded, 1-2 mm; pedicels 0.4-1 mm diam, 7-23 mm long with
2-5 scattered bracteoles like subtending bracts, 1-1.5 mm long; perianth seg-
ments 12-15,leathery, rounded, outer 1-1.5 x 1.5-3 mm, inner largest, 5.5-7 x
4.5-5.5 mm, orbicular or oblong-obovate, stamens 6-7 in one series, 2.5-3.5 mm
long; carpels 11-13, 1.7-2..5 mm long; mature carpels 10-15 mm long, 5-6 mm
broad, 2-5 mm thick, with short acumen; seed 1 per carpel, brown, glossy, 5-6
) mm x 4-5 mm x 2-3 mm.
Contribution No. N-151, Bureau of Nematology
I. anisatum 'differs from I. parviflorum mainly in the flowers having more peri-
anth segments (17-24) which are thinner, longer, and narrower (11-23 x 2-4.5 mm),
and more stamens (17-25) in 2 series.
'It was necessary to have known native material collected from the wild for com-
zarison with the cultivated material in order to establish if the two were
identical. A collecting trip was made to an area in the Ocala National Forest
just southwest of Lake George where numerous plants were found along one of the
streams. Flowering specimens were photographed (fig. 1) and collected for com-
parison. These plants proved identical with cultivated material, establishing
that the cultivated anisetree is I. parviflorum, not I. anisatum.
A check of the literature revealed the probable source of the misidentification.
William Bartram in his travels in Florida came across this plant before it was
described as new and called it Illicium anisatum. Apparently the nurserymen
have followed Bartram's naming, although it has long been known to be incorrect.
The correct name for the anisetree of the Florida nursery trade is Illicium
parviflorum Michx. ex Vent. I. anisatum sensu Bartram, Journal 49. 1776; non
L., is incorrectly applied to this plant and should not be used. I. anisatum
L. is a distinct species from the orient and either is not grown here or is
grown very sparingly.
Fig. 1. Illicium parviflorum in flower
1. Small, J. K. 1933. Manual of the southeastern flora. Univ. of North
Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 1554 p.
2. Smith, A. C. 1947. The families Illiciaceae and Schisandracae. Sargentia