Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean whose seed (commonly called aniseed) has a strong licorice flavor. Anise should not be confused with star anise, a woody, star-shaped dark brown fruit. Aniseed is tiny, and looks like a fuzzy fennel seed.
Aniseed is high in anethole, its primary aroma and flavor compound, which smells and tastes like sweet black licorice. It is the flavoring agent in many European licorice spirits, including arak, anisette, absinthe, ouzo, raki, and sambuca. Production of anise essential oil has decreased, as it is easier to produce the essential oil of star anise.
Aniseed is also popular in baking, especially in Scandanavian countries and in Germany.