‘Florida Sunshine’ yellow anise tree

Story by Clara A. Curtis

There’s never a dull day in the garden as long as you have a ‘Florida Sunshine’ yellow anise tree. With its brightly colored chartreuse leaves and red stems, this southeastern native is sure to brighten a woodland garden or enliven shady to partly sunny corners. Noted plantsman Tony Avent released this outstandingly beautiful cultivar.

‘Florida Sunshine’ should be located where it can be enjoyed, perhaps along a path that you walk daily or where you can see it through a window as you look into the garden. The shrub has a neat form and maintains a tight growth pattern. This broadleaf evergreen shrub can be limbed up to form a small multi-trunked tree and is drought tolerant once established. 

Photo by Norman Winter.

Its foliage and stems emit an odor with hints of licorice, but it should NOT be ingested nor should the seeds be consumed. Illicium verum is the only species that produces the edible star anise spice used in baking, liqueurs, and Asian cuisine.

Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: ‘Florida Sunshine’ yellow anise tree or star anise
Botanical Name: Illicium parviflora ‘Florida Sunshine’
Color: Leaves are chartreuse with a gold color in the fall. Stems are a contrasting red and flowers are white with yellow centers.
Blooming Period: Late spring to early summer 
Type: Woody shrub, broadleaf evergreen
Size: Height, 6-8 feet, spread of 4-6 feet
Exposure: Partial shade to shade
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 6-9
When to Plant: Spring or fall 
Soil: Medium moisture and well-drained sandy acidic soils. Mulch annually with leaf mold or other organic mulch to moderate soil temperature, moisture, and reduce weed competition.
Watering: Water well at planting. Grows best with adequate moisture and will withstand drought once established.
When to Prune: Only as needed to shape or contain growth.
When to Fertilize: In spring with balanced or organic fertilizers. 
In Your Landscape: This plant can be used in woodland gardens or in developed landscapes as foundation plants, mixed border accents, screening, or as a decorative container anchor plant. It spreads in colonies and roots where stems touch the soil. Deer resistant.

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