Plant Small Anise for Year-Round Color
Illicium parviflorum ‘Banana Appeal’ is a beautifully luminous, small, evergreen shrub that reaches 3-4′ tall and wide. This plant is in the Shisandraceae family, which also contains star anise (Illicium verum), whose seed pods are used to flavor Indian cuisine. However, neither leaves nor seed pods of Illicium parviflorum ‘Banana Appeal’ should be used for cooking as they are toxic. The seed pods are, however, a beautiful star-shape and bring interest to the garden in the late fall or early winter.
‘Banana Appeal’ will brighten up the shade in your yard. The flowers are a pretty yellow-green color which bloom in spring. The leaves are yellow-chartreuse, shiny, and elliptical in shape. They emit a fragrant anise scent when crushed. The new growth, in particularly, is an attractive golden yellow. Unlike the species plant, Illicium parviflorum ‘Banana Appeal’ does not sucker and send out runners. It is also smaller and more colorful than the species, and therefore more versatile for urban gardens.
Illicium parviflorum ‘Banana Appeal’ is a useful plant for Bay Area gardens. It is compact with its upward facing leaves and dense growth habit. As such, it works as an effective short hedge. Its attractive foliage makes this shrub a wonderful addition to woodland gardens, mixing with finer textured Japanese Maples, as well as the contrasting colors of red or green Heuchera foliage and Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica). This small anise bush will keep bright foliage color in the garden through the seasons.
Due to its moderate to higher water needs, ‘Banana Appeal’ works great for those wet spots in your garden. Whether you have high ground water, seasonal streams moving through your property, or a rain garden, this shrub is the perfect pick! It also works well as a foundation plant near downspouts. Plant in containers to get a beautiful, year-round foliage display on patios.
Deer resistant and generally pest and disease free.
USDA Zones: 7-9
Planting and Care for Illicium parviflorum ‘Banana Appeal’
- Plant in part shade to full shade.
- Plant in rich, moist soil – this plant needs consistent soil moisture.
- Amend soils yearly with 2 inches of Greenall’s Firmulch.
- Plant in acidic to slightly alkaline soil.
- Water needs are moderate to high.
- Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer, including phosphorus.
- Water 3-4 times a week to establish.
- Mulch base with bark mulch to conserve soil moisture.
- Prune after blooming in spring to shape and increase air circulation, removing any dead wood.