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American Licorice

© Iralee Barnard

 

Common Name: American Licorice

Scientific Name: Glycyrrhiza lepidota

Family: Bean

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 1.5 - 3 feet

Bloom Period:
August and September

 

 

© Iralee Barnard

 

 

Description: Erect stems are mostly unbranched. Leaves are alternate with 11-19 oblong leaflets. Pealike flowers are white to greenish.

Comments: American Licorice is found in prairies statewide and forms colonies from rhizomes. Fruits are reddish-brown burs with hooked spines, similar to cockleburs. Roots of licorice plants had many uses. Meriwether Lewis, on the 1804-1806 western expedition, reported the roots may be prepared by roasting and pounding slightly to produce an edible part with a flavor similar to sweet potato. Medicinally, the root was used in cough syrups. Commercial licorice flavoring is from a related European species.