Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Anise

AniseAnise is an annual herb of the natural order Umbelliferæ. It is a native of southwestern Asia, northern Africa and south-eastern Europe, whence it has been introduced by man throughout the Mediterranean region, into Germany, and to some extent into other temperate regions of both hemispheres, but seems not to be known anywhere in the wild state or as an escape from gardens. To judge from its mention in the Scriptures (Matthew xxiii, 23), it was highly valued as a cultivated crop prior to our era, not only in Palestine, but elsewhere in the East. Many Greek and Roman authors, especially Dioscorides, Theophrastus, Pliny and Paladius, wrote more or less fully of its cultivation and uses.

From their days to the present it seems to have enjoyed general popularity. In the ninth century, Charlemagne commanded that it be grown upon the imperial farms; in the thirteenth, Albertus Magnus speaks highly of it; and since then many agricultural writers have devoted attention to it. But though it has been cultivated for at least two thousand years and is now extensively grown in Malta, Spain, southern France, Russia, Germany and India, which mainly supply the market, it seems not to have developed any improved varieties.

Its roots are white, spindle-shaped and rather fibrous; its stems about 18 inches tall, branchy, erect, slender, cylindrical; its root leaves lobed somewhat like those of celery; its stem leaves more and more finely cut toward the upper part of the stem, near the top of which they resemble fennel leaves in their finely divided segments; its flowers yellowish white, small, rather large, in loose umbels consisting of many umbellets; its fruits ("seeds") greenish-gray, small, ovoid or oblong in outline, longitudinally furrowed and ridged on the convex side, very aromatic, sweetish and pleasantly piquant.

No comments: