Star anise is a spice with a flavor that closely resembles anise, but it comes from an evergreen tree (Illicium verum) native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China. The tree produces star-shaped fruits that are harvested just before ripening.
Star anise tea is a traditional remedy for rheumatism. The seeds can be chewed after meals to aid digestion.
In contrast to the mainland tree, Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), a similar evergreen, is inedible and highly toxic. In Japan, it has instead been burned as incense, which provides a pleasant but insensible scent.