Botanical Name:Illicium Verum Origin: Belgium Star Anise is a smaller plant belonging to the Magnolia family, native to China and Vietnam, although today it’s grown almost exclusively in Southwest China and Japan. The fruit is small, only about an inch and quarter tall (3 cm) and star shaped with 5 to 10 points. The fruit is picked unripe and sun-dried before it is used. The Japanese plant the tree in their temples and on tombs, and pound the bark for use as incense. Star Anise is generally non-toxic and non-irritating and should not be confused with Illicium anisatum, a Japanese variety that is toxic.