Japanese Star Anise (Shikimi) (Illicium anisatum) is one of the toxic plants belonging to Illiciaceae, and is only one Illicium species in Japan. It is well known that the toxic compound of this plant is anisatin, which belongs to a unique sesquiterpene lactone and has the beta- and gamma-lactone moieties in the structure. The Illicium plant is distributed in the world only some 40 species. Among them, some 30 species are distributed in China.
Investigation into the EtOH extract of the pericarps of a Chinese Illicium plant, Illicium majus, afforded tow new sesquiterpene lactones, designated as majucin and neomajucin, which has another unique structure along with anisatin. Two phytoquinoids and two neolignans were also isolated from this material.
The study on the constituents from the pericarps of I.dunnianum, also a Chines Illicium plant, gave two new sesquiterpene lactones, which resembles to pseudoanisatin isolated from I.anisatum. This material also gave two new triphenylneolignans, dunnianin and isodunnianin.
Other Chines Illicium plant, I.macranthum, was investigated, and a new triphenylneolignan was isolated, designated macranthol, together with a biphenylneolignan, magnolol, which was isolated from Magnolia obovata, Magnoliaceae. Another Chinese plant, I.simonsii has also gave a new triphenylneolignan.
The Bark of I.difengpi is used as a folk medicine in China, and the EtoH extract gave many glyceroneolignans.