Anise seed (Pimpinella anisum) is an aromatic licorice-flavored seed that comes from a flowering annual plant native to the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Anise spread to Europe during the Middle Age and more widely thereafter.
Western cuisines have long used Anise to flavor dishes drinks and candies mostly due to the presence of the essential oil anethole which is also found in the unrelated less expensive star anise which is common in many Asian cuisines. Anise is commonly found in traditional baked goods and sweets from a number of world cuisines from American licorice candies to Italian pizzelle cookies to Mexican champurrado a hot drink similar to hot chocolate. Anise is also a key ingredient in many flavored spirits and liqueurs including the French absinthe and anisette Italian Sambuca Greek ouzo and numerous others.
Anise has also been used medicinally for the relief of digestive disorders and cold or flu symptoms. It is often taken as a digestive after meals in India. Containing anethole a phytoestrogen Anise is often brewed as a tea for nursing mothers in Middle Eastern countries as it is believed to promote milk flow.