Harvesting Anise Seed – When And How To Pick Anise Seeds

Pile Next To Wooden Spoon Full Of Anise Seeds
Green anise
(Image credit: Furtseff)

Anise is a polarizing spice. With its strong licorice flavor, some people love it and some people can’t stand it. If you’re someone in the former camp, however, there’s nothing easier or more rewarding than growing and saving your own anise seeds to use year round. Keep reading to learn more about how to pick anise seeds and preserve them.

When Should I Be Harvesting Anise Seed?

Anise flowers are white and wispy and very similar in appearance to Queen Anne’s lace. It takes them quite a while to develop seeds, and about 100 frost-free days of growth are required before anise seed harvest can take place.

In late summer or early autumn, you should notice the flowers developing small, green seeds. Some gardeners insist that you should leave the plants alone until the seeds dry out and turn a muddy brown color. Others hold that you should harvest them when they’re still green and let them ripen and dry indoors.

Both are viable options, but considering how long it takes the seeds to form, most gardeners would benefit from getting them indoors when they’re still green, before the autumn frost hits.

Anise Seed Harvest Methods

Whether you’re picking anise when it’s ripe or not, there’s no need to collect the tiny seeds one at a time. Instead, snip the stems below the flower heads.

If the seeds are still green, tie the flowers together into a bundle and hang them upside down in a cool, airy place. Make sure to put a container or a cloth beneath them to catch the seeds, which should ripen and dry out naturally.

If you’ve waited until the seeds are already dry, gently shake the flowers upside down over a container, or inside a paper bag. If they’re ripe, the seeds ought to fall right off.

Storing Anise Seeds

After picking anise seeds, it’s important to store them correctly. Make sure the seeds are completely dry, then place them in an airtight container or jar. Avoid adding any cloth or paper towels, as this will just consolidate moisture and lead to problems. Store your container in a cool, dark place, and enjoy your homegrown anise seeds all year long.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.