Native to Southeast Asia, the beautiful star shaped seeds of Star Anise have a long tradition of use in Chinese medicine, where they are known as ba jiao hui xiang - meaning ''Eight-horned Fennel''. In China, it plays a pivotal role as one of the spices of the famous 5 spice mixture. The Japanese species, Illicium anisatum (syn. Illicium religiosa) is highly revered as a Shikimi or Buddha tree and is often planted in temple grounds and near burial sites - However, its seeds, which have sometimes been confused with the Chinese species, are highly poisonous. The powdered seeds and bark are an important ingredient of Japanese incense blends.