Star anise comes by its name honestly, with its star shape and a licorice taste similar to regular anise, only stronger. Star anise is the seed pod of an evergreen tree (Illicium Verum) grown in southwestern China and Japan. It is about one inch high with eight segments and a dark brown rust color. Like regular anise, star anise gets its distinctive licorice taste from a chemical compound called anethol. However the two are not related botanically - star anise is a member of the Magnolia family.