Glycyrrhiza lepidota - (Nutt.)Pursh.
Common Name American Liquorice
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards Very young growth can be poisonous to animals[212].
Habitats Cultivated ground, waste places, roadsides, prairies, gravelly river bottoms and moist mountain draws to 2,100 metres[212]. Usually grows in patches, frequently in heavy clay and saline soils[212].
Range N. America - Saskatchewan to British Columbia, south to California and Mexico.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Glycyrrhiza lepidota American Liquorice
Glycyrrhiza lepidota American Liquorice
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Glycyrrhiza lepidota is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in). It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Root - raw or cooked[2, 46, 61, 203]. Long, sweet and fleshy[105], when slow roasted they are said to taste like sweet potatoes[183, 207]. They can be used as a flavouring in other foods and can also be chewed raw as a masticatory[177, 183, 212], making an excellent tooth cleaner and also very good for teething children. The root contains 6% glycyrrhizin, a substance that is 50 times sweeter than sugar[183]. The tender young shoots can be eaten raw in the spring[183, 257].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Birthing aid;  Foot care;  Odontalgic;  Poultice;  Tonic.

American liquorice was widely employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it in the treatment of a range of diseases[257]. All parts of the body are medicinal, but the roots are the most active part. This species has properties similar to other liquorices which are widely used medicinally, though this species is rather neglected in modern literature. An infusion of the root is used to speed the delivery of the placenta after childbirth, it is also used to treat coughs, diarrhoea, chest pains, fevers in children, stomach aches etc[207, 257]. It is also used as a wash or poultice on swellings[257]. The chewed root is retained in the mouth as a treatment for toothache and sore throats[207, 257]. The mashed leaves are used as a poultice on sores[207, 257]. The leaves have been placed in the shoes to absorb moisture[257].


Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details
Requires a deep well cultivated fertile moisture-retentive soil for good root production[200]. Prefers a sandy soil with abundant moisture[238]. Slightly alkaline conditions produce the best plants[238]. A very deep-rooted plant, it can be difficult to eradicate once it is established[238]. Unless seed is required, the plant is usually prevented from flowering so that it puts more energy into producing good quality roots[238]. Plants are growing very well at Kew[K]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow spring or autumn in a greenhouse[200]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and grow them on for their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in late spring or early summer when in active growth. Plants are rather slow to grow from seed[238]. Division of the root in spring or autumn. Each division must have at least one growth bud. Autumn divisions can either be replanted immediately or stored in clamps until the spring and then be planted out[200]. It is best to pt up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a cold frame until they are established before planting them out in the spring or summer.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Glycyrrhiza aspera 10
Glycyrrhiza echinataWild Liquorice, Chinese licorice43
Glycyrrhiza glabraLiquorice, Cultivated licorice44
Glycyrrhiza malensis 20
Glycyrrhiza uralensisGan Cao34
Polypodium glycyrrhizaLicorice Fern12


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Readers comment
   Mon Aug 9 02:14:12 2004
where are the pictures?!?!? they would make it much easier for me to tell what plant you are talking about. This is the one thing missing from your website that would make it excellent.
Dawn   Tue Jan 19 2010
I live in Florida and would like to grow licorice. Does anyone know where I can get the seeds?
   Dec 23 2010 12:00AM
Apparently consistent and/or excessive consumption of wild licorice can lead to health problems. See
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Subject : Glycyrrhiza lepidota  

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