Licorice, or Liquorice, a perennial plant native to southern Europe and central and western Asia. The licorice plant grows two to five feet (60 to 150 cm) tall. It bears leaves made up of leaflets growing from either side of the leafstalks, and pale-violet flowers shaped like those of its relative, the sweet pea.
Licorice is cultivated, chiefly in the Mediterranean region and Russia, for its long, pliant rootstocks, which contain a sweet substance called glycyrrhizin. The plants are dug three or four years after planting. An extract, which is also called licorice, is obtained from the rootstalks by boiling and mashing them, and then straining and evaporating the juice. The juice dries as a brilliant black solid. Licorice is used in cough medicines and cough drops, and to flavor distasteful medicines. It is also used in candies, and to flavor chewing tobacco and cigarette tobacco. Brewers use licorice roots to color porter, a dark beer. A substance obtained from the roots is used to stabilize the foam in beer and in foam fire extinguishers.
Wild licorice, a North American relative of the common licorice, grows in the central and western United States and Canada. The plant grows two to three feet (60 to 90 cm) tall and bears white flowers.
Licorice is Glycyrrhiza glabra of the pea family, Leguminosae. Wild licorice is G. lepidota.Licorice is cultivated for its sweet, pliant rootstocks.