Illicium Parviflorum ‘Florida Sunshine’
Illicium parviflorum ‘Florida Sunshine’
(Grown and recommended by Johnston County Nurserymen)
Marshall Warren, Horticulture Extension Agent
‘Florida Sunshine’ Anise provides the yellow and chartreuse colors that are elusive and coveted in the shade garden. Its glossy golden leaves distinguish it from other types of anise and when crushed, the leaves smell of licorice. Its red stems contrast with its yellow foliage giving it a gorgeous glow throughout the year, but it especially shines on dreary winter days. It’s a dependable evergreen shrub, compact 6 to 8 feet tall and wide, deer resistant, and all-around wonderful.
This golden yellow form of the native Florida sweet anise was selected by plantsman Tony Avent. Describing this plant in his Plant Delights Nursery website, he states; “We brought three golden seedlings of the rare Florida endemic Illicium parviflorum back from a 2000 visit to Florida plantsman Charles Webb. After several years of evaluation, we selected one plant for introduction as Illicium ‘Florida Sunshine’. Our original 16-year-old specimen has become a medium-sized shrub to 7′ tall x 8′ wide of anise-fragranced, chartreuse gold foliage during the spring and summer. As the weather cools in fall, the leaf color brightens to screaming yellow, then becomes a near parchment color by midwinter. During the same time, the upper stems take on a brilliant red cast, contrasting vividly with the leaves. In sun, the winter foliage will scorch, so we recommend this be grown in light shade…a stunning beacon in the winter garden.”
‘Florida Sunshine’ Anise can be planted in mass for an unforgettable sight in the woodland garden, or is well suited as a foundation plant on the north side of a house. It grows best if planted in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter and placed in a partially shaded location protected from harsh afternoon sun. Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system, and provide water during the summer if planted in a dry place. Feed it with an acid fertilizer before spring growth starts, and lightly prune to shape after flowering.
Note that Illicium parvifolum is toxic if ingested, despite the delightful aroma of their leaves.