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Hedysarum boreale mackenzii - (Richardson.)Löve.&D.Löve.

Common Name Liquorice Root
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards The root is said to be slightly toxic.
Habitats Calcareous gravels and slopes[172].
Range Western N. America - Colorado.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Hedysarum boreale mackenzii Liquorice Root


Hedysarum boreale mackenzii Liquorice Root

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Hedysarum boreale mackenzii is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower from Jul to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

H. mackenzii. Richardson.

Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root.
Edible Uses:

Root - raw or cooked[177]. Long and sweet[46, 61] with a liquorice-like flavour[183]. Used in spring, the root is crisp and juicy but it becomes tough and woody as the season advances[2, 183].

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.



None known

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Easily grown in ordinary garden soil in a sunny position, preferring a deep well-drained sandy loam[1, 200]. Plants strongly resent root disturbance and should be placed in their permanent positions as soon as possible[1]. Does well in the rock garden or border[1]. 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].

Propagation

Seed - sow in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe or in the spring[200]. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in spring. Great care is needed since the plant dislikes root disturbance[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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
Hedysarum alpinumAlpine Sweetvetch30
Hedysarum arcticum 20
Hedysarum borealeSweet Vetch, Utah sweetvetch, Northern sweetvetch40
Hedysarum hedysaroidesAlpine French Honeysuckle30
Hedysarum occidentaleLiquorice Root, Western sweetvetch40
Hedysarum sachalinense 20
Hedysarum vicioides 20

 

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Expert comment

Author

(Richardson.)Löve.&D.Löve.

Botanical References

43200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

sheila williams   Sun Feb 10 2008

This is the plant that in the movie 'Into the Wild' killed Chris McCandless. It is seemingly very toxic and disturbs the digestive system to the poing of making it impossible to eat.

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Fri Feb 15 2008

I get the feeling that this is another case of the Movies getting it all wrong. This plant is actually often encouraged to grow in stocking systems and is highly palatable to livestock and other herbivores. There is a report that the root is slightly toxic, but then so are potatoes and many other of our common foods such as beans! It is all a matter of degree.

Norm G Smith   Thu Mar 6 2008

I was reading an article about this, and it seems the seed is the toxic part.

Outside Online Chris McCandless became partly paralyzed and slowly died after eating the seeds.

Norman G Smith   Thu Mar 6 2008

Now here is a website that de-bunks the "poison seeds" theory. I'm no expert, but with the movie "Into the Wild" blaming the death on these seeds I think we will be hearing more about this debate. Peace

terraincognitafilms.com This website de-bunks the "poison seeds" theory.

Mary Lou Tate   Thu Mar 20 2008

Have heard that Hedysarum mackenzii is toxic and can even cause death. True? Saw the movie "Into the Wild". Chris McCandless ingested Hedysarum mackenzii and ultimately met his death.

harry   Mon Jan 4 2010

if the root was slightly toxic why would they use it as a medicene to help your digestion and use it as a sweet.

Here's the long debunking of the rumours spread by Krakauer's book and later the film about McCandless.   Sep 28 2015 12:00AM

Forager's Harvest

In 2008, researchers Treadwell & Clausen tested the root for any chemical basis for toxicity and found no evidence for these rumours. (PDF)   Sep 28 2015 12:00AM

Is Hedysarum mackenziei (Wild Sweet Pea) Actually Toxic?

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Subject : Hedysarum boreale mackenzii  
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