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Aniseed Myrtle

Anise Myrtle, Aniseed Myrtle, Native Anise, Ringwood, Anisata, Anisata spice

Syzygium Anisatum, Backhousia anisata, Anetholea anisata

Aniseed Myrtle or Anise Myrtle (Syzygium anisatum), is also called Native Anis or ringwood, is native to the Australian rainforest of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. While being somewhat rare in the rainforest it has been grown commercially since the 1990s to meet a growing demand for its leaves. In Australia, the leaves are used as a Bush tucker spice or bush spice. Australian bush spices are the leafs or fruits of native plants of Australia used to season food or boil tea. Due to the anethole content, Anise Myrtle imparts a rich aniseed flavor.

Anise Myrtle
Anise Myrtle leaf also known as Aniseed Myrtle
a rich source of anethole

Aniseed myrtle is closely related to cinnamon myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia), curry myrtle (Backhousia angustifolia) and the much more commonly known lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) and traditionally, the aborigines used the leaves to flavor foods cooked in earth ovens and to prepare drinks.

The leaves of aniseed myrtle are very aromatic and have a flavor and aroma very similar to true aniseed. As a result, the trees have been grown commercially since the 1990s for their essentail oils, which are used in making perfumes. The flavor of the leaves has also made them popular for aficionados of 'bush food'.

Dried aniseed myrtle leaves have grown in popularity and are now sold both as a culinary herb and for making teas.

Aniseed myrtle leaves can be purchased dried, ground or flaked and provide a strong taste and smell of anis, liquorice or Pernod. The pungent spice should be used in small amounts and easily becomes over powering. In most recipes, Native Anis may be used as a good substitute for aniseed or star anis. This spice is commonly used in marinades and sauces, for meat, baked goods, as a herbal infusion, and in dips or desserts.

Aniseed myrtle is sometimes sold as Anisata or Anisata spice which is also used as a flavoring in rice, seafood, stocks, sauces, breads, biscuits, pastries, desserts, ice-cream, beverages & tea blends.

Because of its powerful aroma, Aniseed myrtle has found favor as an aromatherapy and for diffusion applications.

Much like the other anethole rich herbs, Anise Myrtle is not only enjoyed as a fine flavoring agent, is used for its antibacterial and carminative quailities, used to assist with weight loss, lactation, and to relieve stomach complaints.

Most Australian leaf spices grow on trees and not considered herbs in the botanical sense of the term, but may be used as culinary spices and have some medicinal use. Here is a list of some of the better-known bushtucker spices you may want to explore.

  • Aniseed myrtle (Backhousia anisata)
  • Australian mint bush (Prostanthera rotundifolia)
  • Blue-Leaved Mallee (Eucalyptus polybractea)
  • Bush pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata, T. stipitata, T. xerophi)
  • Cape barren tea (Correa alba)
  • Cinnamon myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia)
  • Lemon Ironbark (Eucalyptus staigeriana)
  • Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora)
  • Native basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
  • Paperbark tea tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia)
  • Peppermint Gum (Eucalyptus dives)
  • River mint (Mentha australis)
  • Running postman (Kennedia prostrata)
  • Saltbush (Atriplex cinerea)
  • Sea Parsley (Apium prostratum)
  • Strawberry Gum (Eucalyptus olida)
  • Sweet Sarsaparilla (Smilax glyciphylla)
  • Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus)
  • Wattleseed (Acacia)