In August, when the weather began to turn to dry, the star anise cultivating families in Loc Binh (Lang Son) prospered during the harvest season of the star anise – a specialty famous for its good essential oils, characteristic aroma.
La Thi Khone’s house (Van Mong commune, Loc Binh province) has nearly 2 hectares of star anise, half of which are large trees about 3-5 meters high, luxuriant canopy, 30-40 years old. The rest are new star anise planted under the Vietnam – Germany afforestation project a few years ago. All have flowered.
From Mrs. Khone’s house to the star anise garden, it takes more than 2 km of muddy road to walk. On a rainy day, the red dirt road became more difficult to go. “My star anise forest was still not far, when I went to Mau Son, people planted a lot of trees and then had to climb a high mountain to arrive,” said Ms. Khon, sharing her walk.
Star anise is actually a fruit, each flower consists of 5-8 diamond-shaped petals arranged in a star shape or spokes. This plant does not take much care, just take the seeds or the seedlings into the ground and let the tree grow on its own. Sometimes people clear the shrubs around the anise, no need for fertilizer.
Each year, star anise has two crops in August and April of the lunar calendar, each season lasts 3-4 months. Star anise fruited on a small branch outside the edge, a branch perched many down, branches endlessly on top. Mrs. Khone picked star anise, so she was very quick to pick up a few low branches. Choosing a straight tree with many branches, she quickly climbed up, but only picked a few flowers that had fallen off.
“It rains very slippery, the branches are big but crunchy, so that they can pick a lot when it is dry,” said the woman over 50 years old.
Mr. Hoang Van Linh (Van Mong, Loc Binh) also visited the anise forest. This year wasn’t as wrong as every year, but it still has to be harvested. If the star anise is left on the over-season plant, the fruiting rate is low in the next crop.
After collecting the star anise flowers, people often wait at the markets and then sell them to traders for about 8,000-10,000 VND / kg, sometimes as high as 12,000 VND / kg. If they do not sell fresh, people can dry it in some sunlight and then sell it dry, the price per kg is about 20,000-23,000 VND.
Star anise grows well in Lang Son because it is suitable for soil types and grows in high terrain. Lang people are attached to the forest in the form of hereditary. Planted once and harvested a hundred years later. Particularly, the area at Lang Son accounts for more than 70% of the country. Star anise oil is a valuable raw material for the production of massage, digestion, and cosmetic products, and aromatherapy products.
Therefore, from the beginning of the 20th century, the French built a star anise oil processing factory in Lang Son, but by the 80s of the 20th century, the star anise was not of interest due to the narrow market and no output. From 1990 up to now, star anise growers continued to develop this specialty crop, the latter crops began to flourish.
Anh Tuyen (Van Mong, Loc Binh) calculated: “One person per day picking an average of 30 kilograms at the price of 10,000 VND, and then sold 300,000. End of the case, almost every house can at least get nearly ten million dongs. Now the children start going to school, taking the money from selling the star anise flowers to buy and prepare them with school necessities”.