Wild Wednesdays are back with a little different flair. We no longer are emphasizing the “wildcrafting” aspect to plants but rather would provide an educational approach as to where our herbs are endemic to, and their botanical makeup, to better understand where medicine has originated and where you might likely be receiving the medicine if you aren’t sure of your sources. Plants are special things, and it’s important for us to know them inside and out if we are going to work with them: understanding the physiology, botanical characteristics, habitat, interactions with the body of animals (us included), and how it current stands in the world. Is it considered a “watch plant”, endangered, used culturally? There are so many things that go into understanding plants! With that, here is our Wild Wednesday plant, licorice!
Native Habitat: Southern Europe, parts of Asia
Glycyrrhiza glabra, or licorice, is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants around the world. Licorice plants grow prolifically east of the Mediterranean and are also cultivated in many places. These plants, which can grow up to 2 meters tall, have woody stems, pairs of narrow, sticky leaflets and bluish-purple flowers that bloom in the mid-summer months. The root, the part of the plant used medicinally, is reddish-brown with a yellow center and consists of a thick taproot that sends out a network of rhizomes. Being in the Fabaceae family, licorice has the ability to fix nitrogen into the soil via bacteria-formed root nodules.
Licorice root is said have anti-inflammatory, expectorant, demulcent, antiviral, antitussive, laxative and hepatoprotective properties – just to name a few! Licorice root is commonly used in cough remedies and to soothe digestive issues. 50 times sweeter than cane sugar, licorice is perhaps one of our sweetest medicines!