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Star anise is sometimes confused with standard anise or Pimpinella anisum or the plants are thought to be closely related. In fact anise plants are a small wispy green plant resembling dill with tiny white flowers. The plants are not closely related (though both are native to Southwest Asia) but are compared to one another because the flavoring imparted by their seeds is remarkably similar. This is because both plants contain the organic compound anethole a natural oil that flavors both these plants as well as fennel licorice and basil.