Herb: American Liquorice


Latin name: Glycyrrhiza lepidota


Family: Leguminosae



Medicinal use of American Liquorice:

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. 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. It is also used as a wash or poultice on swellings. The chewed root is retained in the mouth as a treatment for toothache and sore throats. The mashed leaves are used as a poultice on sores. The leaves have been placed in the shoes to absorb moisture.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

Flovering:
July to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Cultivated ground, waste places, roadsides, prairies, gravelly river bottoms and moist mountain draws to 2,100 metres. Usually grows in patches, frequently in heavy clay and saline soils.

Edible parts of American Liquorice:

Root - raw or cooked. Long, sweet and fleshy, when slow roasted they are said to taste like sweet potatoes. They can be used as a flavouring in other foods and can also be chewed raw as a masticatory, 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. The tender young shoots can be eaten raw in the spring.

Propagation of the herb:

Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow spring or autumn in a greenhouse. 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. 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. 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.

Cultivation of American Liquorice:

Cultivated ground, waste places, roadsides, prairies, gravelly river bottoms and moist mountain draws to 2,100 metres. Usually grows in patches, frequently in heavy clay and saline soils.

Known hazards of Glycyrrhiza lepidota:

Very young growth can be poisonous to animals.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.