What is Anise Grape? Learn about this Amusing Fruit Here

In this blog, we’ll show you the characteristics of the anise grape (both the fruit and the plant), its main types, and properties, how it is cultivated, and some products made from this food. Don’t miss it!  

What is anise grape and what are its characteristics?     

Scientific nameCavendish bracteata 
Common nameAnis Grape, zarcillejo, colmillo or tulla
HabitatPlaces with average temperatures of 13°C
DistributionCentral and South America.

Characteristics of the anise grape plant  

The anise grape plant belongs to the Ericaceae family and its fruit has the same name. It can have a height ranging from 1 to 4 meters and its branches tend to extend upwards ending with its flowers, in the case of the fruit branches, they tend to be red in color.  


It produces approximately 6 to 30 flowers at most. The petals of this flower are red or pinkish which lighten at their tip into a yellowish green tone, with sizes from 10 to 28 millimeters in height and 4 to 9 millimeters in width.


Its leaves are oval-shaped and green and can measure from 2.5 to 22 centimeters in length and an average of 1.5 to 10 centimeters in width.

What does the fruit of the anise grape look like?  

The fruit of the anise grape is round and small with an average size of 8 to 14 millimeters. The berry is initially green, but once it ripens it acquires a violet color.  

It has a velvet-like texture as it has small hairs. Its flavor resembles anise with a sweet touch. It has a large variety of small seeds.

Where does anise grape grow?

The anise grape is distributed in countries such as:  

  • Mexico in Oaxaca, Veracruz and Chiapas.
  • Guatemala
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Costa Rica
  • Panama 
  • Ecuador
  • Peru 
  • Bolivia in Cochabamba, La Paz and Santa Cruz
  • Venezuela in Amazonas, Aragua, Distrito Federal de Venezuela, Lara, Mérida, Miranda, Sucre, Táchira, Trujillo and Yaracuy
  • Colombia in Antioquia, Boyacá, Caldas, Cauca, Chocó, Cundinamarca, Huila, La Guajira, Magdalena, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Quindío, Risaralda, Santander, Tolima, and Valle.  

Types of anise grapes  

In general, there are 10 species of anise grapes, which are:  

  1. Cavendishia nitida 
  2. Gaultheria erecta
  3. Cavendishia pubescens  
  4. Plutarchia guascensis 
  5. Thibaudia floribunda 
  6. Thibaudia grantii 
  7. Vaccinium meridionale  
  8. Gaultheria sclerophylla fine
  9. Gaulteria hapalotricha 
  10. Maclenia rupestris  

When using the term “species” we refer to crops that are related to anise grapes because they belong to the same family but are not another type of anise grape. Sometimes these species are referred to in scientific circles as “genera”.  

From this family (Ericaceae) arise other subfamilies such as the Vaccinioidea which is divided into 5 tribes such as the Gaultherieae where the Gaultheria genus is found and the Vaccinieae where the Cavendishia, Macleania, Plutarchia, Thibaudia, and Vaccinium genera are found.

Today we will focus on the first 6 species mentioned because they are the main ones. These are:  

Cavendish nitida   

Scientific nameCavendish nítida
Common nameGrape
Place of originColombia
HabitatCold and temperate climates.
DistributionBoyacá and Cundinamarca.

The plant of this fruit consists of a terrestrial shrub that can measure from one to three meters. Its flower has the shape of tentacles because its petals are grouped in this way, only at the end of this figure, the petals open at their tips and give the impression that it is a traditional flower with its petals open, showing its center.  

Another characteristic of this plant is that at the tip of the petals, the reddish color begins to degrade to a white tone.

This type of anise grape has another particularity and that is that its fruit seems to have a similar texture to the traditional grape, only that in this varies its silhouette because it acquires a somewhat square shape with some lines on its faces, similar to the appearance of a jelly.

This fruit is found in Colombia, more specifically in the department of Boyacá, in the municipality of Duitama, and in the department of Cundinamarca in sectors such as:

  • Anolaima 
  • Bogota 
  • Bojacá 
  • Facatativá
  • Fusagasugá
  • Gachetá 
  • Granada
  • La Mesa
  • Mosquera
  • San Antonio del Tequendama
  • San Francisco
  • Santandercito 
  • Sasaima 
  • Sibaté 
  • Soacha
  • Subachoque
  • Supatá 
  • Tausa 
  • Ubaté
  • Zipaquirá
Flower of Cavendishia nitida
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Gaultheria erecta  

Scientific nameGaultheria erecta
Common name“Cacao”, “Mortiño”, “Mortiño borrachero azuloso”, “Pachín”, “Uva”, “Urbalai”
Place of originCentral and South America.
HabitatAndean forests, rocky areas and subpáramos.

This plant has small, rose-shaped, closed, red flowers that are grouped on stems of the same color.  

The fruit of this grape is round and dark purple in color, similar in size to the traditional grape. You can find this variety in Mexico and in Colombia in departments such as Boyacá, more specifically in places like:

  • Arcabuco
  • Aquitania
  • Belén
  • Duitama
  • El Cocuy
  • Güicán  
  • La Uvita
  • Paipa
  • Pajarito
  • Pisba
  • Ramiriquí 
  • Santa Rosa de Viterbo
  • Soatá 
  • Socotá
  • Susacón 
  • Toca
  • Villa de Leyva

You can also find it in the department of Cundinamarca, in areas such as:

  • Bogotá
  • Bojacá 
  • Chipaque 
  • Choachí 
  • Cogua 
  • Cota
  • El Colegio
  • Floresta
  • Fómeque 
  • Gachancipá 
  • Guasca
  • Guayabetal 
  • Junín
  • La Calera
  • Mosquera
  • Quetame 
  • San Francisco
  • Sesquilé 
  • Tenjo 
  • Villapinzón 
  • Zipaquirá
Flower of Cavendishia nitida
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Cavendish pubescent  

Scientific nameCavendish pubescent
Common nameQuemadera”, “Quereme”, “Uva”, “Uvito”, “Uvito noble” “Uvito de barrancos”, “Uvito de monte”, “Uvo de monte”
Place of originSouth America
HabitatDry environments and humid climates.
DistributionCentral and South America

This variety’s flower is similar in appearance to Cavendishia nitida, only that its petals tend to discolor early on so they are mostly white with only a red base.

Its fruit has a unique shape of an opaque green velvety berry with a large thorn-like part protruding in the center. These fruits are grouped in clusters at the tip of the crop.

It is found in Panama, Costa Rica, western Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia. In this last country, you can find it more specifically in the department of Boyacá, in the municipalities of Duitama, Arcabuco, Togüí, and Villa de Leyva, and in the department of Cundinamarca in sectors such as:

  • Anolaima 
  • Bogotá
  • Fusagasugá
  • La Palma
  • La Vega
  • Nilo
  • Pacho
  • San Francisco
  • Silvania 
  • Tena
Flor de uvito
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Plutarchia guascensis  

Scientific namePlutarchia guascensis
Common nameChorotico o Uvito.
Place of originColombia and Ecuador
HabitatParamo vegetation

The flower of this variety is similar in appearance to Cavendishia nitida and pubescent, but differs in that it retains the red color from start to finish in its petals without degradation. These flowers are located at the top of the plant and grouped in clusters.

Its fruit looks as a grape usually looks, only that its skin opens at the end as a flower does, exposing the pulp of the fruit and its center in the form of a point, where it retains its seeds.  

As an added value, this variety has a high content of antioxidants that prevent you from getting sick.  

This type of anise grape is found in Colombia again in the department of Boyacá in municipalities such as Duitama, Paipa, and Villa de Leyva, and in the department of Cundinamarca in sectors such as Guasca, La Calera, and Villapinzón.

Chorotico or uvito
By Franz Xaver – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65036765

Thibaudia floribunda   

Scientific nameThibaudia floribunda
Common name“Coral”, “Chaquilulo”, “Uvo”, “Uvo de monte”
Place of originSouth America
HabitatRocky ravines, roadsides, isolated trees in the countryside, and sub-moorlands.
DistributionEcuador, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela.

This variety has a flowering identical to that of the Cavendishia nitida both in shape and color, but it differs because its fruit is very similar to that of the traditional grape with the oval shape that distinguishes it, however, this fruit opens like the Plutarchia guascensis and in its center, it has a dark color.  

Like all the previous types of anise grapes, this one is found in Colombia in the departments of Boyacá and Cundinamarca. In Boyacá it is present in Duitama, Tunja, and Villa de Leyva and in Cundinamarca in places such as:

  • Bogotá
  • Cabrera  
  • Fómeque  
  • Granada
  • Guasca
  • Junín
  • La Calera
  • Mosquera
  • Pasca
  • San Antonio del Tequendama
  • San Bernardo
  • San Francisco
  • Sibaté 
  • Soacha
  • Subachoque 
  • Zipaquirá 

Thibaudia grantii  

Scientific nameThibaudia floribunda
Common name“Chorota”, “Chorotas”
Place of originColombia
HabitatRoadsides and countryside

This variety differs from the others because it has a large number of flowers in a single cluster and because its fruit looks like a small lemon with its peel opening at the back like a flower growing. You’ll find this type of grape in Colombia but this time it is only in Cundinamarca in Bogotá, Fómeque, and La Calera.

Properties and benefits of anise grapes  

Source of tannic acid 

The anise grape is not only distinguished by its uniqueness, but also by its medicinal benefits as having tannic acid in the fruit and flowers. This acid promotes astringent (antidiarrheal), antirheumatic (relieves joint ailments) and tonic that repairs damaged skin, either by open pores, sagging or dryness.

Source of antioxidants  

On the other hand, this fruit is rich in antioxidants, these elements strengthen your immune system, whose function is to prevent you from getting sick and/or fight disease once they enter your body.

Uses of anise grapes   

Human consumption

This food is often used in the culinary world to prepare various consumables such as fermented or unfermented juices or teas, wines, raisins, dressings, cakes, ice cream, jams, candies, salads, and puree. Additionally, the fruit can be consumed in its original form, dehydrated, or as frozen pulp.  

Industrial and artisanal  

This fruit can also be used to make home remedies, as mentioned in the section on its properties, using its fruits, leaves, and branches. Many Colombian pharmaceutical companies, such as Laboratorio de Farmacología Vegetal Labfarve, use it for the creation of creams and tonics for the skin.


On the other hand, this plant could be of great help to combat the collateral effects of global warming because its cultivation repairs gullies, erosion centers, and empty and landslide-prone soils.

How is anise grape cultivated?   

To grow this fruit there are a series of requirements that must be taken into account. Below, we’ll show you what they are:  


The soil suitable for growing anise grapes should have abundant organic matter and vegetation that transitions between high Andean forest and sub-moorlands.  

Likewise, it is preferred that the soil be moist and adequately drained. Shallow soils are optional.


Average temperatures of 12°C to 9°C in rural areas and 6 to 10°C in sub-moorland areas are ideal for this crop, along with the presence of sub-humid, humid, and dry environments.  

It is due to these climatic requirements that areas such as the Cundinamarca-Boyacá highlands are destined for this crop since this region is known in Colombia for having an average temperature of 13.5°C (55°F).  

Anise grape planting method  

  1. The first step is to prepare the soil, this procedure will be carried out chemically and manually. When manually, a hole will be dug in the ground with a depth ranging from 40 to 60 centimeters. It must not be cultivated in the presence of frost.

The digging and opening of the holes have to be done 8 days before planting the crop so that, during this time, the holes receive enough air. Once the 8 days have passed, plant the crop and fill the holes with earthworm organic matter simultaneously, being careful that no stones enter the soil.

  1. Before proceeding to cultivate the cuttings, they should be left for 15 to 30 days in a place near the cultivation area, where they can receive some shade and daily watering until it is time to plant them.
  1. When planting the anise grapes, check that the soil has no air pockets, and for this, when the plant is finished growing, the soil around it should be trampled down so that it is compressed by the roots.   

Make sure that the root is fully upright with no kinks. The root trunk should be about 2 to 5 centimeters below the soil surface.  

  1. Once the planting process has begun, if you wish to continue planting crops, it is appropriate to do it on days without strong winds, low humidity, or soils with puddles.

The ideal times to plant anise grapes are in rainy seasons from March to June approximately.  

  1. This crop has a particularity and it is suggested that to plant an anise grape plant, a mixture of two crops of anise grape and one of another native species is made, so that this mixture serves as a support for the growth of the plant, such species are:
  • Ciro (Baccharis bogotensis)
  • Ageratina aristei 
  • Puya (Puya sp.)
  • Chilco (Baccharis latifolia)
  • Tagüe (Gaiadendron punctatum)
  • Blackberry (Rubus floribundum)
  • Garrocho (Viburnum triphyllum and Viburnum tinoides)
  • Cucharo (Myrsine guianensis)
  • Wax laurel (Morella parvifolia)
  • Encenillo (Weinmania tomentosa)
  • Setecueros (Tibouchina grossa)
  • Pitcher (Beferia resinosa)
  • Agraz (Vaccinium spp)
  • Shrimp grape  

Anise grape harvest  

Harvesting should be done when the fruits are ripe and violet and when there is no physical damage to the fruit. You can harvest by hand the ones you consider necessary because they won’t all grow at the same time; it will depend on the flowering process of each plant.

If you also want to collect the plants to use their tannin elements, you must select the specimens that do not have physical or pathological damage such as fungi. For this process, it is necessary to select the secondary and tertiary stems and cut them with blunt scissors.  

This type of pruning stimulates the growth and repair of tissues in the plant, as well as its production of sugars and amino acids. 

Anise grapes post-harvest 

Once the anise grape has been harvested, it is advisable to keep it in a refrigerator to prolong its shelf life and prevent fungi such as mold from growing on it, or that it simply expires earlier than expected, which is why it is not advisable to leave this fruit outdoors.  

As long as it remains in cold environments, grapes will be fresh for a considerable time of at least 3 weeks.  

Another way to preserve it is to turn it into jelly or frozen pulp.


In conclusion, we realize that many times we think we have seen it all and this is when nature surprises us with fruits like the anise grape, which is still waiting to be discovered by many and to give its full potential. Aren’t you curious to try this unique fruit?