Anise seed is used as a spice, either ground or whole. Anise essential oil and extract are also made from the seeds. The seeds are produced by the Pimpinella anisum plant, which has been cultivated in the Middle East for many centuries. The seeds are small, brownish gray, and slightly curved, with an aroma of licorice.
Anise has a licorice flavor that is sweet, mildly spicy, and very aromatic. This flavor is produced by anethole, an organic compound related to estragole, which produces flavors in tarragon and basil.