Anise, also known as aniseed, is a type of spice derived from the seeds of the anise plant. The anise plant is a Mediterranean plant which has aromatic leaves and stems, and while the leaves can be used as a herb, it is the seeds which are mostly used for cooking. Anise is an important ingredient in many baked goods, desserts as well as sausage-making. The strong taste of the anise plant is often compared to fennel or liquorice. Anise is also used as a base for various alcoholic beverages including absinthe.
Depending on the variety of the plant, anise has a flavour which ranges from fruity to bitter. This versatility is what makes it such a common spice used in a wide range of dishes. The anise plant, which is known as the Pimpinella magnesium plant, is native to the Middle East as well as different parts of Europe, where it has been grown for many years. Anise is known to help in digestion and the prevention of flatulence and intestinal gas. Moreover, the spice also has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) showed improved symptoms after consuming anise.