Odd pod query

Credit: B. Hamer


Q: What is this? The pod is brown and has spines along its sides.

This is Star anise, which is the seedpod of an evergreen tree Illicium verum grown in China and Vietnam.

This seedpod, also known as Chinese anise, is used extensively in the slow-cooked dishes that characterize Eastern Chinese cuisine; for example, the licorice flavour enhances red cooked dishes, as well as eggs simmered in black tea. Also, Star anise is one of the spices in five-spice powder.