Star anise, star aniseed, badiane or Chinese star anise, (Chinese: , pinyin: bājiǎo, lit. "eighthorn";
Malayalam: ) is a spice that closely resembles anise in flavor, obtained fromthe star‐shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a small native evergreen tree of southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay–Indonesian cuisine. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five‐spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also a major ingredient in the making of phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup. It is used as a spice in preparation of Biryani inAndhra Pradesh, a state of southern India. In Marathi, it is called BarDan, which literally means "spice with twelve seeds".
Star anise has been used in a tea as a remedy for rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes
chewed after meals to aid digestion. As a warm and moving herb, Ba Jiao is used to assist in
relieving cold‐stagnation in the middle jiao, according to TCM. Shikimic acid, a primary feedstock used to create the anti‐flu drug Tamiflu, is produced by most autotrophic organisms, but star anise is the industrial source. In 2005, there was a temporary shortage of star anise due to its use in making Tamiflu. Late in that year, a way was found of making shikimic acid artificially. Roche now derives some of the raw material it needs from fermenting E. coli bacteria. The 2009 swine flu (H1N1) outbreak led to another series of shortages as stocks of Tamiflu were built up around the world, sending prices soaring. Star anise is grown in four provinces in China and harvested between March and May. Its also found in the south of New South Wales. The shikimic acid is extracted from the seeds in a tenstage manufacturing process which takes a year. Reports say 90% of the harvest is already used by the Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer Roche in making Tamiflu, but other reports say there is an abundance of the spice in the main regions ‐ Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan. Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), a similar tree, is not edible because it is highly toxic (due to containing sikimitoxin); instead, it has been burned as incense in Japan. Cases of illness, including "serious neurological effects, such as seizures", reported after using star anise tea may be a result of using this species. Japanese star anise contains anisatin, which causes severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract and digestive organs.
"Swine Flu Bumps Up Price Of Chinese Spice", NPR, 18 May 2009