South Dakota Native Plant Research
Fabaceae : Glycyrrhiza lepidota

Fabaceae : Glycyrrhiza lepidota


Download Seed: The smooth brown seeds of American licorice are 3-4 mm long. (59 KB)

Download Two month old American licorice seedling grown in research garden at SDSU. (72 KB)

Download Leaves (463 KB)

Download Flowering: The flowers create a spikelike raceme. (53 KB)

Download Fruiting: Fruit pods of American licorice in mid August. (979 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

American licorice, Wild licorice

Native American Name

Dakota: "Wi-nawizi, Lakota: wináwizi čík’ala


Glycyrrhiza lepidota is a perennial herb arising from deep, woody, aromatic roots with multiple, erect stems, which grow 30-120 cm in height and are typically dotted with glands. The leaves are alternate, with petioles 5-50 mm long and stipules 3-7 mm long. The blades are compound odd-pinnate with oblong to lanceolate leaflets, 2-7 cm long with glandular dots, in groups of 7 to 21. The inflorescences are axial, dense, spike-like racemes of numerous flowers, with peduncles 1–6 cm long. The flowers have tubular-campanulate green calyx tubes that are 2-2.5 mm long, with teeth 2.5–3 mm long, the tube and teeth both having stalked glands. The papilionaceous corollas have white to yellowish white petals, the banner moderately erect, 10-14 mm long, keel and wings 8-12 mm long. There are 9 united stamens and 1 separate stamen. The fruit is an ellipsoid legume, 1–2 cm long going from green to orangish-brown with age and covered with hooked bristles 2–3 mm long. The fruit remain through the winter. American licorice blooms from July into September in prairie ravines, along streams and lakeshores and in other moist areas throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Wild licorice is one of my favorite plants in a native garden. The leaves, flowers and especially the fruit add texture and color throughout the year. The flowers and leaves attract native butterflies including skippers. This plant can, however, be a very aggressive when growing in good soils with ample moisture. Planting it in drier soils and in partial shade allows it to be more easily contained.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seed in late summer when the fruit turn brown and the seed are brown in color.

Germination: Scarification with sandpaper will allow seeds to be sown in the spring.

Vegetative Propagation: In early spring or late fall, pieces of underground rhizomes can be divided and transplanted.

Soils: Prefers rich well-drained soils.

Light: Full sun

Water: Prefers moist conditions

Fabaceae : Glycyrrhiza lepidota