Friday, October 29, 2010

An anise bouquet

At my house, in the fall, we have the sweet scent of anise scenting the breeze.  I have a plant outside of my guestroom that grows taller than my head.  On it are this year's seeds and next year's flowers.  I picked a bouquet to bring the anise scent into the house.

I put the anise in an old vase an artist had made for my grandfather.   I hadn't used it in a long time.  I see now that was a mistake.  It really lends itself to a bouquet such as this one. 

The feathery green is part of the living plant.  Here's a closer view.

Now here's a closeup of the seeds.  When I brushed these dried flowers with my hand, I got a handful of sweet-licorice-smelling seeds.  I love the smell.  That's why I brought some of it inside.

I have fennel in my front yard.  Until today, I didn't know how to tell the difference without smelling the seeds.  Today I see the anise seed pods look like dried flowers.  They easily give up their seeds.

The fennel seed pods close up around the seeds and don't let them go until Spring.  Here's some fennel seed pods.  The parent plants look almost the same.

See how the fennel flowers cradle and protect their seeds?

Both mature plants look about the same.  The anise flowers are yellow, the fennel flowers are white.  I've lived here for 10 years and only now have I figured it out.



  1. Ah, I can smell that scent from here. Now I need a glass of ouzo :) Nice photos.

  2. I'll have a virtual drink with you.

  3. I don't think I have ever smelled an anise plant. I wonder if they grow here? Is it a perennial?

  4. Oh my! How does one describe a scent the other hasn't smelled? Anise is lightly sweet. It smells something like sweet alyssum, but it's lighter with a licorice tint.

    The plant is a bulb and spreads vigorously in our dry summer/wet winter climate. The Fennel bulb is eaten as a vegetable. Anise is best known for using the seeds in cooking.

    Anise and Fennel seem to be cousins of some sort because I have them both in my yard and unless I smell the flowers I don't know which is which, that is, now I know the white flowers are anise and the yellow flowers are fennel - or is it the other way around?


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