Shrubs, small trees, or lianas, evergreen or deciduous. Bark often aromatic. Leaves alternate, sometimes fascicled near twig apex or sometimes pseudoverticillate or subopposite, simple, petiolate, entire, often aromatic, dotted with pellucid glands; stipules absent. Leaf blade pinnately veined, margins entire to remotely dentate. Flowers solitary in the axils or sometimes 2 or 3 together or in few-flowered axillary inflorescences, bisexual or unisexual (the plants monoecious or dioecious); perianth hypogynous; tepals 5–33(–55), imbricate, distinct, in 2(–3) series, all similar but innermost more petaloid. Stamens 4–80, hypogynous, distinct or connate partially or completely into fleshy, globose or discoid mass, in 1-several series; anthers basifixed, longitudinally dehiscent. Carpels 5–300, separate, closely set in few to many series on globose to elongate axis; placentation nearly basal, marginal to pendulous; ovules 1–3(–10) per locule. Fruits 1-seeded follicles and radially spreading in a stellate pattern or aggregates of berries, produced on elongate axis.
Seed, cuttings of semi-hardwood.
Source of commercial oils and condiments. Chinese star-anise, used widely for flavoring wine and cooking, is obtained from Illicium verum Hook.f.
Bark and or leaves aromatic; tepals often numerous, overlapping; carpels often numerous, free; fruits aranged in a stellate cluster or aggregates of berries.
3 genera, 92 species. Tropical and temperate regions of eastern and south-eastern Asia, to the SE USA, Mexico, West Indies.
Now includes the family Illiciaceae.
Created by: Val Stajsic
Updated by: Val Stajsic, March 2018