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Glycyrrhiza glabra - L.

Common Name Liquorice, Cultivated licorice
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards A gross overdose of the root can cause oedema, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure[9, 65]. Do not use during premenstrual syndrome as water retention and bloating occur. If pregnant or have liver cirrhosis use with caution. Avoid using for more than 6 weeks. Excessive quantities may cause headache, sluggishness and potassium depletion [301].
Habitats Dry open places[50], especially in sandy places near the sea[132].
Range Europe - Mediterranean.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Glycyrrhiza glabra Liquorice, Cultivated licorice

Glycyrrhiza glabra Liquorice, Cultivated licorice


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Glycyrrhiza glabra is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8. It is in flower from June to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is 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. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.


Glycyrrhiza glandulifera. Glycyrrhiza hirsuta. Glycyrrhiza pallida. Glycyrrhiza violacea.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root.
Edible Uses: Sweetener;  Tea.

Root - raw or used as a flavouring. The source of liquorice powder that is extracted and used in sweets, baked goods, ice cream, soft drinks etc[7, 34, 100, 183], it is also used medicinally. A sweet and delicious flavour, but the root is very fibrous[K]. The root contains glycyrrhizin, a substance that is 50 times sweeter than sucrose[171, 183, 238]. The dried root is often used for chewing, it is excellent for teething children and also as a tooth cleaner[7, 34]. A tea made from the roots is an excellent thirst quencher[21]. The powdered root is also used as a sweetener in other herb teas[183]. The leaves are used as a tea substitute in Mongolia[183].

Medicinal Uses

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Alterative;  Antiinflammatory;  Antispasmodic;  Demulcent;  Diuretic;  Emollient;  Expectorant;  Laxative;  
Miscellany;  Pectoral;  Tonic.

Liquorice his one of the most commonly used herbs in Western herbal medicine and has a very long history of use, both as a medicine and also as a flavouring to disguise the unpleasant flavour of other medications[4]. It is a very sweet, moist, soothing herb that detoxifies and protects the liver[238] and is also powerfully anti-inflammatory, being used in conditions as varied as arthritis and mouth ulcers[254]. The root is alterative, antispasmodic, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative, moderately pectoral and tonic[4, 9, 21, 46, 165, 178]. The root has also been shown to have a hormonal effect similar to the ovarian hormone[7]. Liquorice root is much used in cough medicines and also in the treatment of catarrhal infections of the urinary tract[4]. It is taken internally in the treatment of Addison's disease, asthma, bronchitis, coughs, peptic ulcer, arthritis, allergic complaints and following steroidal therapy[238]. It should be used in moderation and should not be prescribed for pregnant women or people with high blood pressure, kidney disease or taking digoxin-based medication[238]. Prolonged usage raises the blood pressure and causes water retention[7, 238]. See also the notes above on toxicity. Externally, the root is used in the treatment of herpes, eczema and shingles[238]. The root is harvested in the autumn when 3 - 4 years old and is dried for later use[4, 238]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Glycyrrhiza glabra for coughs/bronchitis, gastritis (see [302] for critics of commission E).

Other Uses

Fibre;  Miscellany.

The plant yields a substance that is used for etching steel sections in photomicrographic work[171]. Extracts from the root are used as a foaming agent in beers and fire extinguishers[238]. A fibre obtained from the roots is used for insulation, wallboard, boxboard etc[4, 171]. The fibres can be used after the medicinal and flavouring constituents of the root have been removed[4].

Cultivation details

Requires a deep well cultivated fertile moisture-retentive soil for good root production[200]. Prefers a sandy soil with abundant moisture and does not flourish in clay[4]. Slightly alkaline conditions produce the best plants[238]. The plant thrives in a maritime climate[7]. Plants are hardy to about -15°c[200]. Liquorice is often cultivated for its edible root which is widely used in medicine and as a flavouring. There are some named varieties[183]. The ssp. glandulifera grows in Russia and produces adventitious roots up to 10 cm thick[142]. Yields of 10 - 12 tonnes per hectare were considered good in the early 20th century, this only being attained in the fourth year of growth[4]. Unless seed is required, the plant is usually prevented from flowering so that it puts more energy into producing good quality roots[238]. The bruised root has a characteristic sweet pungent smell[245]. Plants are slow to settle in and do not produce much growth in their first two years after being moved[4]. The young growth is also very susceptible to damage by slugs and so the plant will require some protection for its first few years[K]. A fairly deep-rooting plant, the roots are up to 120cm long[4]. It can be difficult to eradicate once it is established[238]. 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].


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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

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 :

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Readers comment

   Tue Jan 24 2006

Paradox... Physical Characteristics: The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure Cultivation details: The plant thrives in a maritime climate[7].

Md.Hemayet Hossain   Tue Aug 8 2006

This page described this plant more specificly than that of other page . Thank you. Moreover I add the follwing information in briefs that will help new learner to know the therapeutic effect& Safety information about this plant more quickly.Thank's a lot. Therapeutic Actions and Indications: Acts on the endocrine system and the liver as an antihepatotoxic effective in treating hepatitis and cirrhosis. Licorice is also an expectorant and antiinflammatory, useful in cough and bronchitis. Safety Information: Not for prolonged use except under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner. Prolonged use may cause hypertension, edema, headache, vertigo and potassium depletion. Not for use by persons with hypertension, hypo-kalemia, edema, cirrhosis of the liver and cholestatic liver disorders, and diabetes. Not to be used during pregnancy.

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Subject : Glycyrrhiza glabra  
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