Source, Etc

The anise, Pimpinella Anisum, Linne (N.O. Umbelli-ferce), is an annual plant indigenous to Greece, Egypt, and Asia Minor, but cultivated largely in southern Russia, and also in Spain and Bulgaria. Aniseed is one of the oldest of medicines and spices; it was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, and was known to Dioscorides and Pliny; in this country it has been in use since the fourteenth century. The drug consists of the ripe fruits.

Description

Anise fruits are greyish brown, about 5 mm. long, ovoid or pear-shaped, and somewhat compressed laterally. They are broad near the base, and taper gradually towards the apex, which is crowned with a stylopod and two short divergent styles. The meri-carps usually remain united and attached to a pedicel longer than the fruit. Each mericap possesses five distinct but not prominent primary ridges which are usually slightly wavy, but do not exhibit the prominent crenations characteristic of hemlock fruits; the depressions between them are more or less distinctly bristly from the presence of short, stout hairs.

Fig. 66.   Anise fruit. Transverse section indicating the position of the vittae, not all of which (about forty in each mericarp) are shown. Magnified. (Moeller.)

Fig. 66. - Anise fruit. Transverse section indicating the position of the vittae, not all of which (about forty in each mericarp) are shown. Magnified. (Moeller).

Fig. 67.   a, Anise fruit. b, Hemlock fruit. Magnified. (Vogl.)

Fig. 67. - a, Anise fruit. b, Hemlock fruit. Magnified. (Vogl).

The vittae branch repeatedly, and the transverse section taken from the middle of the fruit exhibits under the microscope from thirty to forty such branches in each mericarp; these, however, are so small that they are scarcely visible under a lens. The endosperm is slightly concave on the commissural surface, but is not deeply grooved.

Anise fruits possess a sweet aromatic taste, and exhale, when crushed, an aromatic odour.

The student should observe

(a) The short, stout, bristly hairs, which are sometimes inconspicuous,

(b) The united mericarps and the pedicel attached to them,

(c) The absence of any deep groove in the endosperm,

(d) The characteristic odour and taste,

(e) The absence of prominent crenations on the primary ridges, which are themselves not conspicuous; and should carefully compare the fruits with those of Conium macu-latum, noting the absence of any deep groove in the endosperm, this being the best macroscopic diagnostic feature.

Constituents

The fruits yield from 1.5 to 3.5 per cent, of volatile oil (sp. gr. 0.975 to 0.990; O.R. -2° to + 1°), of which anethol, present to the extent of about 90 per cent., is the principal aromatic constituent. Anethol, C10H12O, forms a white, crystalline solid melting at 22°; it has a strong anise odour.

Varieties

Spanish, exported from Alicante; the fruits are distinguished by their large size (4 mm.), grey or brownish grey colour, and slender tapering shape; they yield about 3 per cent, of oil.

Russian fruits are smaller, darker, and rather more ovoid in shape; they are exported in very large quantities, and are the variety generally used for distillation.

Italian anise fruits are frequently contaminated with hemlock fruits, which may be identified by their glabrous surface, by the irregularly crenate ridges, by the absence of the pedicel, and (best of all) by the deep groove in the endosperm.

Note

Anise fruits are frequently adulterated with dried, sifted earth; the ash should not exceed 11 per cent.; in adulterated anise it may rise to 25 per cent.

Uses

Anise is employed as an aromatic and carminative.