Appearance and General Info
Licorice is glandular plant with sticky, leafy stems and stalks. It has an impressive and extensive root system, the roots (with a brown exterior and yellow interior,) consisting of wrinkled, fibrous wood that grows underground horizontally. The flowers are a yellowish-white hue, and are found in abundance on the plant. The seeds become sticky and are a miniature version of nature’s Velcro.
Flowering time: May-August.
Licorice is commonly used in the treatment of relieving mucous congestion, coughs and hoarseness. It is also valuable for stomach ulcers and indigestion. The kidneys are supported by the licorice root tea as well as other bladder problems. The wild licorice found out in the southwest is a different species than the sweet tasting licorice root commonly found in stores, but it does have many of the same medicinal properties.
The roots of wild licorice can be eaten raw or cooked. They are similar to a potato in flavor but often long and fleshy. They can be used as a flavoring in other foods as well, and can also be chewed raw as a masticator, making an excellent tooth cleaner and also very good for teething children. The tender young shoots can be eaten raw in the spring before they shoot up their seed stalk. Later in the fall after the seeds have dropped, the roots can be harvested for tea through the winter months.