Glycyrrhiza glabra

Common Name Liquorice, Cultivated licorice
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
Synonyms Glycyrrhiza glandulifera. Glycyrrhiza hirsuta. Glycyrrhiza pallida. Glycyrrhiza violacea.
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  
Medicinal Rating  
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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 Jun to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It can fix Nitrogen.

USDA hardiness zone : 7-10

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 glabra Liquorice, Cultivated licorice
Glycyrrhiza glabra Liquorice, Cultivated licorice


 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

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].


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.


Additional information for Liquorice

 Belongs to the following Article

Nitrogen fixing plant species suited to temperate climate such as North Canterbury New Zealand

Nitrogen fixing plant species suited to temperate climate such as North Canterbury New Zealand

Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth. Certain plants have a useful ability to capture nitrogen from the atmosphere. This is often achieved through symbiotic relationship with fungi in the root zone. Being able access unlimited nitrogen allows these plants to grow quickly while also making some available to surrounding plants. The practical reality is that including nitrogen fixing plants of various shapes and sizes amongst other productive plantings improves overall health, vigour and fertility,


Winter plant propagation by division

June 30, 2020
Clone or duplicate plants by dividing. May also be useful to reinvigorate or restart aging plants.
The exact process will differ for each species but generally involves digging up part or all of the plant, carefully separating or cutting rooted sections before removing most of the leaf surface area and replanting in new locations. Post care includes watering and weeding as required.
  June   July   August