Florida Anise: Small Tree for the Shade Garden

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.


Spunky likes the scent of the Variegated Florida Anise
If red is not your color, Florida Anise is also available in a white-flowering form and a variegated form with soft pink blooms.

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