Native to Asia, primarily China, star anise is the fruit of Illicium verum, a tree of the Illiciaceae family. The species was introduced to Europe in the late 17th century. Star anise is widely used for culinary purposes, especially as a spice for its licorice-like notes. It is harvested twice a year during the period between April and October. The fruits are picked green and sun-dried, giving them their characteristic red-brown color.