Anise seed is native to the Mediterranean basin, and has been used throughout history in both sweet and savory applications. Anise has long been known as an aid to digestion. The Romans ended their elaborate feasts with anise cakes. In the Mediterranean, anise is featured heavily in cakes, breads, cookies and liquors.
Anise seeds are not botanically related to star anise, but have nearly identical flavors and in ground form can be substituted for each other.