This beautiful star-shaped spice is the fruit of an evergreen tree that grows in Vietnam, China, and Japan. The star anise can be used whole, in mulled wine, chai, and marinades, or can be broken up and then ground and mixed with other spices for baked goods and savory dishes. It's an integral part of Chinese Five Spice. Whole star anise has a long shelf life, but try to use any that you've ground within six months.
The Kitchen Imp's star anise comes from Vietnam. Almost all is unbroken.