Pimpinella anisum


Pimpinella is a sweet, aromatic, annual herb with a very distinctive aniseed flavour. A member of the carrot family, it grows to around 18in (45cm) high and produces finely divided leaves and umbrella-like flower heads.

Family: Apiaceae, Umbelliferae
Botanical Name: Pimpinella anisum
Common Names: Aniseed, anise, sweet cumin

Foliage: Deciduous, rounded, lobed, basal leaves with serrated edges. Feathery leaves on the flower stems.

Flowers: Umbels of small white or cream flowers, followed by pale brown, ribbed seeds.

Flowering Period: July, August.

Soil: Moist but well-drained, fertile soil (chalk, sand or loam). Alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Full sun. Plant in a east, west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered position.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Half-hardy annual.

Origin: Mediterranean.

Hardiness: Hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Pimpinella

Grow in a light, fertile, slightly alkaline soil, in a warm, sheltered sunny position.

Needs a warm climate for the seeds to ripen well, although the young leaves and roots can still be used as a herb.

Taking Care of Pimpinella

Keep the soil weeded and well watered during summer.

Pruning Pimpinella

Not required. Pull up and discard plants at the end of the season.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest and disease free.

Propagating Pimpinella

Sow seeds in individual pots in a cold frame or greenhouse in early spring. Germination takes 2 to 3 weeks. Harden off and plant out once all risk of frost has past. Alternatively, sow seed direct in a sunny spot in late spring. Outside sowings can be slow to germinate.

Culinary Uses

The ripe seeds are widely used as flavouring for candies, sweet dishes, breads, biscuits, spiced cakes and curries. The young leaves can be added to fish dishes or salads. The stems and roots can be use in soups.

Aniseed is best known for its use in Absinthe, Anisette, Pernod and other liqueurs.

Harvesting Aniseed: Pick the leaves in summer, while still fresh and tender.

The seeds can be harvested once they mature from green to a greyish-green. Cut off the flower heads and hang them upside down over a container to collect the seed.

Varieties of Pimpinella

Pimpinella anisum is the main species grown as a herb. Height from 18-24in (45-60cm). Available from Victoriana Nursery Gardens.