Glycyrrhiza lepidota Pursh

American licorice

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

American licorice is native to central and western North America, and occasionally introduced in the east, including parts of New England. It was extensively used by Native Americans as an herbal remedy for fever, stomach ache, toothache, ear infection and sore throat, as well as to strengthen the throat for singing.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
Flower petal color
  • blue to purple
  • white
  • yellow
Leaf type
the leaves are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
Flower symmetry
there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
  • there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
  • there are four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
Stamen number
10
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
Fruit length
12–15 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Anther opening
    the anthers have narrow slits or furrows that run lengthwise along the anthers
    Anther spurs
    the anthers do not have spurs on them
    Calyx symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Carpels fused
    • NA
    • the carpel is solitary or (if 2 or more) the carpels are not fused to one another
    Cleistogamous flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla morphology
    NA
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament surface
    the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary and a hypanthium
    Flower number
    At least 10
    Flower orientation
    the flower points upwards or is angled outwards
    Flower petal color
    • blue to purple
    • white
    • yellow
    Flower reproductive parts
    the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    the style is narrow at the tip and unbranched
    Fused stamen clusters
    there are two clusters of fused stamens
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
    Hairs on inflorescence
    • at least some of the hairs on the axis of the inflorescence have glands
    • the axis of the inflorescence has no hairs on it
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower has a hypanthium
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Length of flower stalk
    0.5–1 mm
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    1
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    • there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    • there are four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Perianth shape
    the perianth is campanulate (bell-shaped, with a tube about as long as wide, flaring at the mouth)
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal and sepal colors
    • blue to purple
    • white
    • yellow
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal base
    the petal narrows abruptly at the base
    Petal folding in bud
    the petals in bud are arranged in a cycle with edges overlapping like roof shingles (imbricate)
    Petal folds or pleats
    • the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    • the petals of the flower have folds or plaits on them
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal length
    9–12 mm
    Petal length relative to sepals
    • the petals are about equal in length to the sepals
    • the petals are longer than the sepals
    Petal number
    5
    Petal shape
    • the petal outline is oblong (rectangular, but with rounded ends)
    • the petal outline is obovate (roughly egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    Petal tip shape
    the petal tip is acute (sharply pointed)
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Raceme attachment (Veronica)
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Scales inside corolla
    no
    Sepal and petal color
    the sepals are different from the petals
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals are green or brown, and leaf-like in texture
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal color
    green to brown
    Sepal length
    8–10 mm
    Sepal number
    5
    Sepal orientation
    the sepals are slightly curved outwards from the corolla
    Sepal relative length
    • the sepal lobes are approximately the same length as the fused portion
    • the sepal lobes are shorter than the fused portion
    Sepal shape
    • the sepal outline is lanceolate (lance-shaped; narrow, gradually tapering from the base to the tip)
    • the sepal outline is linear (extremely narrow, thread-like)
    Sepal texture
    the sepals are either very thin but flexible, like a membrane, or they are leaf-like in texture
    Sepal tip shape
    • the sepal tip is acuminate (tapers to a very narrow point)
    • the sepal tip is acute (is sharply pointed)
    Sepal uniformity
    one or more of the sepals is much narrower or shorter than the others
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Stamen lengths differ
    the stamen lengths are other than the choices given
    Stamen morphology
    the stamens within a cycle differ in length or width
    Stamen number
    10
    Stamen relative length
    anything
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are attached to one another at or near their bases
    Staminodes
    there are no staminodes on the flower
    Style petal-like
    the styles are not petal-like
    Surface of ovary
    the ovary surface is covered with small prickles
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule ribs
    NA
    Capsule splitting
    • NA
    • the capsule splits by two main valves, teeth or pores
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit length
    12–15 mm
    Fruit length relative to sepals
    the fruit is longer than its associated sepals
    Fruit locules
    one
    Fruit shape
    the fruit is ellipsoid (widest in the middle and tapering to each end)
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a legume (a fruit that splits into two valves, but only has a single carpel; think of a pea pod)
    Fruit width
    8–10 mm
    Hairs on fruit
    NA
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    the legume has prickles on it
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    NA
    Placenta arrangement
    the plant has parietal placentation, where ovules develop on the wall or slight outgrowths of the wall forming broken partitions within a compound ovary
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Seed number
    At least 1
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits are armed with thorns-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    the leaf blades have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Plants darken when dry
    no
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracteoles
    there are no bracteoles on the plant
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    20–40 mm
    Final leaf segment length to width ratio (compound lvs only)
    2.5–4.5
    Floral bracts
    the flower has one or more bracts associated with it
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is rounded
    Leaf blade base symmetry
    the leaf blade base is symmetrical
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf blade primary vein pattern
    the secondary veins branch off at intervals from the primary vein
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base towards the tip (it may or may not have secondary veins)
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they whither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the leaves are green, with an expanded blade and a leaf-like texture
    Leaf shiny
    the upper side of the leaf is dull or slightly shiny
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk base
    the petiole base is narrow where it attaches to the stem
    Leaf stalk length
    10–17 mm
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    Leaf type
    the leaves are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets
    Leaf types
    There is a gradual change in appearance of the leaves from the base (or near the base) of the plant to those from further up on the stem, with leaves progressively changing as one moves higher on the stem (often becoming shorter, or less toothed/lobed, and/or with shorter petioles).
    Leaf variation
    the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    Leaflet number
    9–19
    Leaves per node
    there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    the pinnately compound leaves have a terminal leaflet (and usually have an odd number of leaflets per axis)
    Specific leaf type
    the leaf has a row of two or more lobes on each side of the central axis
    Stipels
    there are no stipels at the bases of the petiolules
    Stipule features
    NA
    Stipules
    the plant has stipules
    Teeth per side of leaf blade
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Hair between stem nodes
    • the stem has hairs between the nodes
    • the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hairs between stem nodes
    • at least some of the hairs on the stem have glands
    • the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Plant height
    Up to 100 cm
    Stem nodes swollen
    the stem is not swollen at the nodes
    Stem orientation
    the stems are upright or angled outwards
    Stem spacing
    the plant is solitary, or a few plants are growing together
    Stem succulence
    the stems are not succulent
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils
    Wings on stem
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Sometimes Confused With

Onobrychis viciifolia:
leaves without glandular dots, wing petals tiny, much shorter than keel, and legume prominently rugose with raised veins (vs. G. lepidota, with the leaves glandular puncatate, wing petals larger, at least 1/2 as long as the keel, and legume covered in uncinate prickles).

Synonyms

  • Glycyrrhiza glutinosa Nutt.
  • Glycyrrhiza lepidota Pursh var. glutinosa (Nutt.) S. Wats.

Family

Fabaceae

Genus

Glycyrrhiza

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Glycyrrhiza lepidota Pursh E

American licorice. Glycyrrhiza glutinosa Nutt.; G. lepidota Pursh var. glutinosa (Nutt.) S. Wats. 
• CT, MA, ME, RI. Fields, dumps, waste areas, wool-waste.