|Florida Anise in bloom|
One of my favorite native plants is Florida Anise. Illicium floridanum is usually thought of as a shrub, but actually makes a tree about 10 feet tall. Florida Anise is native to moist wooded ravines of the Florida panhandle and Southeastern Louisiana.
Shiny evergreen leaves, single trunk, and compact stature with a maximum height of 10 feet make Florida Anise a lovely small tree.
Leaves have a spicy scent when crushed, much like anise, which is why deer won't eat it.
Very unusual red flowers appear in spring and have star-like petals. Once flowers fade, interesting seed pods develop. The large star-shaped seed pods are not a substitute for the culinary anise and are poisonous if ingested, which is probably another reason deer will not eat it.
Drought tolerant once established, Florida Anise is a good choice for the southern garden. Native to Florida and Louisiana, Illicium Floridanum is too tender for northern gardens as it is hardy in USDA Zones 7-10 only.
Plant in partial shade. Enjoys wet soil, if you have some, and can take a little more sun if planted in a boggy area.
If you find one growing in the wild, do not dig it up to move it to your garden since Florida Anise is a threatened native species.
Enjoying the same growing conditions as azaleas, camellias, and gardenias, Florida Anise is a good companion for them. If you've been searching for something unusual for your shade garden, Florida Anise is perfect.