Star anise forest is located in Yen Phuc commune, Van Quan district, which is considered the “capital” of star anise trees. The main harvest season is usually from July to September. In addition, there is also one more season for harvesting after the Lunar New Year.
Star anise flower is the fruit of the tree, each consisting of 5-8 rhombus petals arranged in a star. This tree does not require much care, just put seeds or young trees into the ground and let them grow. Sometimes, people clear bushes around the trees, without fertilizer.
A photo of star anise flowers. (Source: Internet)
Each year, star anise trees bear fruits in Lunar August and April, each lasting 3 – 4 months. Star anise fruit is on the edge, branches are bending while others are on the top of the tree.
Mrs. Khon was familiar with picking star anise so she did her job very quickly. Choosing a straight tree with many branches, she climbed up, but only picked a few flowers.
Star anise trees are not only in Lang Son but also grown in some other provinces such as Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Quang Ninh, etc, and some localities of China. However, due to the favorable climate and soil, Lang Son star anise flowers are considered to be the best quality products with high essential oil content and especially no toxins. The people of Lang Son are attached to the star anise forest for many generations. They grow once and harvest a hundred years later.
In Lang Son province, star anise is widely grown in most districts such as Van Quan, Binh Gia, Van Lang, Loc Binh, and Cao Loc with an area of more than 35,000 ha, accounting for over 70% of the total star anise area of the country.
Star anise essential oil is a precious material for the production of massages, digestion, and processing of cosmetics and fragrances. Star anise stems have specific flavors like seeds, which are eaten like vegetables. Seeds are processed and used for some food. Star anise powder is very suitable for baking and is the main ingredient for many recipes such as duck, pork, etc.
In Western countries, oil is produced by the distillation of star anise flowers, and star anise essential oil is often added to some wines. It is also a flavor in desserts and barbecues. In traditional medicine, the star anise flower helps to stimulate digestion and is also used to treat and reduce abdominal pain. Therefore, from the beginning of the 20th century, the French built an essential oil processing factory in Lang Son.
Star anise trees grow well in Lang Son due to the favorable soil and climate. (Photo: Internet)
By the ’80s of the 20th century, star anise was of no interest due to the narrow market without output. But from 1990 to now, star anise has taken its place back and its essential oil has been exported to China, North America, Europe, etc to make pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Especially in recent years, star anise essential oil has been used by scientists to produce Tamiflu which is a specific drug to treat influenza A/H1N1, H5N1, H3N2, etc.
Over the years, the star anise tree has been identified as the key economic tree and long-term strategy of Lang Son, which is the main source of export goods of the province. To facilitate the integration of this forest product into the domestic and international markets as well as to protect both producers and consumers, it is necessary to develop the Designation of Origin of Goods for the products of Lang Son.
In 2007, the star anise tree was announced by the Vietnam Intellectual Property Department to register the name of exporting goods and grant geographical indication. This tree is protected by the State as an inviolable national asset. It is necessary to develop and improve the production and quality of star anise flowers as well as the processing and consumption of star anise towards protecting the brand name, sustainable development high economic value, multifunctional, and worthy of its potential.