Wild Licorice Root

Ojibway: Wiishkobanijiibik
Latin: Glycyrrhiza lepidota Nutt. ex Pursh.

Wild-Licorice-Root-1

Common Names
  • American Licorice
  • Sweet root
Description

This tall plant has a stem that is covered with minute, sticky hairs. Found on the branches are brown fruits covered with hooked spines.

Flowers

Cream flowers, which resemble those of alfalfa, are crowded
on a terminal spike June to July.

Leaves

Leaves are opposite and on long stems.

Height

Wild-Licorice-Root-2

0.3-0.9 m (1-3 ft.) tall.

Habitat

Prairies, stream valleys, sandy moist areas and roadsides.

Range

West Ontario to British Columbia, south to north-west Missouri, north Arkansas, Texas, Mexico, and California.

Discussion

The root can be eaten raw or cooked, but it is not the plant used for the production of commercial licorice. The root is sweet and fleshy, and when slow roasted is said to taste like sweet potatoes. The root contains six percent glycyrrhizin, a substance that is fifty times sweeter than sugar. Also, the tender young shoots can be eaten raw in the spring. Medicinally, the plant can be used for a birthing aid, foot care, toothaches, and treating sores on the skin.?Found at the end of the trail.