Pimpinella anisum Linn. Umbelliferae. Anise.
Greece and Egypt. Anison was known to the ancient Greeks. Dioscorides says the best came from Crete, the next best from Egypt. It is also mentioned by Theophrastus. Pliny, in the first century, says "anesum, green or dry, is desirable in all seasonings or sauces." The seeds, he says, are sprinkled in the under crust of bread and are used for flavoring wine. He quotes Pythagoras as praising it whether raw or cooked. Palladius, in the beginning of the third century, gives directions for its sowing. Charlemagne, in the ninth century, commanded that anise should be sown on the imperial farms in Germany. Anise is mentioned also by Albertus Magnus in the thirteenth century. It seems to have been grown in England as a potherb prior to 1542, as Boore, in his Dyetary of Helth, printed in that year, says of it and fennel, "These herbes be seldom used but theyr seedes be greatly occupyde." Ruellius records anise in France in 1536 and gives the common name as Roman fennel, the name Albertus Magnus used in the thirteenth century. It is classed among culinary herbs by McMahon, 1806.
In the seventeenth century, Quintyne records the use of the leaves in salads. The seeds now serve to flavor various liquors; in Italy, they appear in diverse pastries; in Germany they are put into bread; in England, in special bread, in rye bread and even in cheese. In Malta, localities in Spain, France, southern Italy, Germany and Russia the plant is grown on a large scale for the seed, which also enters commerce in northern India and Chile. The plant is indigenous to Asia Minor, the Greek islands and Egypt but is nowhere to be found undoubtedly growing wild. There is no indication of its having formed varieties under cultivation, except that Bauhin records one sort having rounder and smaller seeds than the common variety.