Star Anise Seeds
Star anise grows as dark brown pods with eight segments, each containing a pea-sized seed. This spice hails from an evergreen tree plant that is native to southern China and northeast Vietnam, although it is cultivated in countries like Laos, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.
Star anise tastes much like a standard anise seed, but slightly more bitter, which is why some chefs use it to provide a licorice flavor for some dishes.
Some people think that star anise and anise seed are the same. While both spices contain an essential oil called anethole, their similarities end here. For starters, anise seed belongs to the Apiaceae family, versus star anise that comes from the Schisandraceae family.
Anise seed is used more in Western dishes, particularly in Greek and French cuisine, since it has an intense, aromatic flavor that’s good for sauces. On the other hand, star anise is more common in Asian cooking.