[The Pea Family in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

American Licorice, Licorice Root, Wild Licorice

Glycyrrhiza lepidota

Synonyms: Glycyrrhiza glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. lepidota

Spiny pods of American Licorice, Licorice Root, Wild Licorice: Glycyrrhiza lepidota (Synonyms: Glycyrrhiza glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. lepidota)

A close-up of the spiny fruits of american licorice as seen along the western shore of the Deschutes River about one-half mile upstream from the Columbia River..........July 27, 2011.

Characteristics:

Licorice root is a small, aromatic shrub with a cluster of several stout stems arising 30-150 cm high from many deep, woody, horizontal rhizomes. The stems are typically covered with tiny scales and raised glands. The leaves measure from 7-15 cm long and are pinnately compound (See photo below.) with 7-19 lanceolate to oblong leaflets, each ranging from 2-4 cm in length. The have acute tips and bases and are covered with glands.

The flower stems are shorter than the leaves. The numerous flowers are found in dense, short racemes of many flowers. The calyx measures 6-7 mm long and has 5 awl-shaped teeth. The yellowish-white corollas range from 10-15 mm long. The pods are 10-20 mm long with numerous, hooked-prickly spines measuring 4-5 mm long covering their surfaces (similar to a cocklebur (See photo below.).


Leaf of American Licorice, Licorice Root, Wild Licorice: Glycyrrhiza lepidota (Synonyms: Glycyrrhiza glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. lepidota)

Pinnately compound leaf of licorice root, Dalton Pt. boat ramp, Columbia River Gorge.........September 3, 2000.

Varieties:

var. glutinosa: Stalked glands may be found throughout the inflorescence and often ont he petioles, and main stems. This variety is found east of the Cascade Mts. from British Columbia south to California and east to Yellowstone National Park.

var. lepidota: Stalked glands may be found on the calyx. This variety may be found from Montana east to Ontario, and south to California. It is uncommonly found in Idaho and Washington.


Habitat:

Licorice root may be found in waste areas or in low ground just above streams and rivers.


Range:

Licorice root may be found from British Columbia south to California and east to Ontario, Minnesota, Arkansas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.

In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found between the elevations of 0'-300' throughout the length of the Gorge.


Pinnately compound leaf of American Licorice, Licorice Root, Wild Licorice: Glycyrrhiza lepidota (Synonyms: Glycyrrhiza glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. lepidota) - American Licorice, Licorice Root, Wild Licorice: Glycyrrhiza lepidota (Synonyms: Glycyrrhiza glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. lepidota)

Additional close-ups of the pinnately compound leaves and spiny fruits of american licorice as seen along the western shore of the Deschutes River about one-half mile upstream from the Columbia River.........July 27, 2011.

American Licorice, Licorice Root, Wild Licorice: Glycyrrhiza lepidota (Synonyms: Glycyrrhiza glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. lepidota)

Maturing fruits of american licorice fern as seen on the cobbly shoreline of Pierce Island, Columbia Land Trust lands in the western Columbia River Gorge......September 7, 2018.

American Licorice, Licorice Root, Wild Licorice: Glycyrrhiza lepidota (Synonyms: Glycyrrhiza glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. lepidota) - American Licorice, Licorice Root, Wild Licorice: Glycyrrhiza lepidota (Synonyms: Glycyrrhiza glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. lepidota)

Close-ups of the leafy stems of american licorice as seen along the Columbia River shoreline east of the Dalton Point boat launch........October 8, 2012.

Paul Slichter