Don't be put off by the “Florida” in its name—this is a great evergreen for shade, and it's hardy at least up to New York, and probably further north in coastal and protected areas. We've always enjoyed crushing a leaf and taking in the spicy fragrance, but we've also come to realize that this fragrance must make it unappealing to deer. Recently a customer reported that he planted Illicium alongside evergreen Rhododendron, which they resemble. Well, the deer mauled his Rhododendron, but they did not even nibble the Illicium. While there's no guarantee that deer will never touch it, it seems to be way down on their list of favorites! Give it a try, and let us know how it does for you.
Illicium 'Woodland Ruby' - Pink Hybrid Anise
From Woodlanders Nursery in South Carolina comes this chance hybrid between the red-flowered I. mexicanum and the white-flowered I. floridanum f. album. Ruby-pink flowers are intermediate in color between those of the parents, and they are larger than those of either parent. Perhaps even more appealing, from I. mexicanum 'Woodland Ruby' has inherited a tendency to produce large flushes of flowers both in spring and fall (even into November!) as well as scattered bloom off and on through summer. Plant out of wind in a shady, moist, well-drained area of the garden. Z. 7-9
Specimen Plants, grown in 2.5-gallon pots.
Illicium anisatum - Japanese Anise
Creamy pink and light yellow flowers in spring are enhanced by glossy, evergreen leaves, making Japanese Anise attractive all year, even when out of bloom. In our area it reaches 6-10 feet. It typically grows with a distinct central leader and forms a pyramidal shape, almost like a dwarf tree. Illicium anisatumis one of the hardier Illicium. When planted in a spot sheltered from wind, it sails through mid-Atlantic winters in splendid condition. As with all Illicium, rich moist soil in part shade is required. Z. 6b-9
Illicium floridanum - Florida Anise
An appealing group of shrubs, Illicium (meaning "allurement" in Latin) is so named for the spicy fragrance of the leaves when bruised. We have grown Illicium for years and always invite visitors to brush the leaves and enjoy the complex spicy aroma. Although Illicium floridanum is native to Gulf coastal areas, the bold smooth foliage remains evergreen even in colder climates, and the appearance of exotic-looking flowers every spring is an event to be fondly anticipated. Maroon flowers looking like starbursts appear in early May and are succeeded by waxy, cookie-cutter-like fruits in fall. Moist, well-drained soil in shade with protection from wind suits this unexpectedly hardy Gulf Coast native. Grows 6-10 feet high, slightly less wide. We have received reports that the foliage aroma renders the leaves unappealing to deer. Please let us know how it does for you. Z. 6b-9
Illicium floridanum 'Pink Frost' - Variegated Florida Anise
Several variegated Illiciums have been circulating in the plant underground for a few years, and this new introduction is the best one to date. Leaves carry an eye-catching yellow-and-cream variegation that holds all summer, and in winter the foliage turns shades of pink, red, and cream. April and May flowers are a deep red-maroon. 'Pink Frost' has dense, upright growth and is expected to reach 5-6 feet in our area, larger in the South. To maintain the unique foliage through the winter, plant this choice selection in a spot well protected from winter wind and sun. PP 21287. Z. 6b-9
Spreading plants, about 15x15 in.