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And we had tons of Star Anise at the Historic Camden Market Day sale. I was afraid I would get stuck with pots and pots of it, so I was letting it go for cheap!


Morning Edition, May 18, 2009 · The swine flu outbreak has infected more than 8,000 people worldwide. In China, only three confirmed cases have been reported so far, but a surprising group of people is feeling the virus' economic impact.

Spice prices in a dusty covered market in Shanghai may seem an unlikely barometer of the level of public panic about new pandemic flus. But many people here believe that a star-shaped spice is a silver bullet against swine flu, and before that, bird flu. It's star anise, an orangey-red, licorice-smelling spice normally used in stews and five-spice powder.

The reason, as a spokesman for the drug-maker Roche explains, is that there are only two ways to produce the active ingredient for the flu-fighting drug Tamiflu — and one of them depends on star anise.

"One of the most important ingredients for Tamiflu is shikimic acid," says the spokesman, Cao Yong. "This stuff can be developed from star anise and the fermentation process in E. coli. That's the link."

Thirty pounds of star anise pods produce only one pound of shikimic acid. And 90 percent of the world's star anise is from China. Four years ago, when bird flu was the next big pandemic threat, a star anise shortage caused bottlenecks in Tamiflu production.

Governments around the world have ordered 220 million courses of Tamiflu amid the current outbreak, and Cao says Roche has enough ingredients to avoid problems.

In China, ordinary shoppers are using more star anise partly because of a cooking tip from none other than the country's health minister, Chen Zhu. He suggested at a news conference that using star anise when cooking pork would be "a very good option to deal with swine flu."

There is no scientific proof that this is true. And there's no known risk of getting swine flu from eating pork.

Yet from the moment the outbreak became widespread in Mexico, the cost of star anise in China started to rise, says spice seller Huang Jinshan.

The retail price of the spice has soared some 30 percent, to about a dollar a pound. But Huang, scooping up handfuls of star anise pods to weigh them, is unimpressed. He recalls fondly the run on white vinegar four years ago after rumors that it could cure bird flu.

Within a fortnight, he says, a 20-cent bottle of white vinegar was selling for $7 — a thirtyfold increase. Then the market completely collapsed.

That's unlikely to happen this time, Huang says, because there are fewer rumors. But he admits that he's thinking about stockpiling star anise, just in case.
Wow, sounds like you could have made a killing if the market had been a little bit later in the week, you could have promoted it as an aid in the swine flu. Sorry for your little bit of bad luck. Hopefully you held some plants back for yourself.
I really wish I'd known, not so much to gouge people, but if you have an interesting story to tell, people get more interested in a plant. We operate the plant booth on donations, and the money goes to Historic Camden, though, so it would have been nice to earn more money for them.

And yes, I did take a couple home. One of the ladies was telling me about using it in cooking, so I thought I should try a couple.
very interesting and good to know...
Question though...The star Anise is a tree? correct?...and needs alot of sun and heat to grow?..I was looking and looking for plants ro seeds for sale on this and seems no one sells them...could you say where you got the starts?Thank you
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I've never grown it, but the ladies that brought it to the sale said it would get very large unless you prune it. They also said it was very hardy and would grow just about anywhere- sun, shade, poor soil...whatever.

The ones I brought home had been pruned back to stems, otherwise I would offer you a start. I'll see if they have one left that I can get cutting off of next time I'm over in Camden.
Blue that is very kind of you...was not my intention for oyu to share...but ;) I would be happy to pay postage and give a donation ...as you mentioned that it was for fund raising for the Historic Camden...I haven't much to trade ...but if there issomething you are looking for let me know and I can look and see...hope you go soon...:D

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