Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is native to southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region and has been cultivated in Europe since at least the 16th century. Spain and Italy have long been major producers of Licorice. The rhizomes and roots are used as a flavoring. They contain glycyrhizin, a compound 50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). The dried roots are still sometimes sold as a sweet. Typically, the juice is obtained from the root and concentrated by boiling. The solid extract obtained this way is used in making sweets, such as licorice sticks and candy. Licorice was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. In the 16th century, Spanish monks living in Yorkshire had a monopoly on licorice growing in England.
Licorice is a perennial herb in the legume family (Fabaceae), growing to a height just over 1 m. Its rhizomes and roots in well drained soils, reaching a depth of 1 m and spreading for several meters.
(Vaughan and Geissler 1997)
- Vaughan, J.G. and C.A. Geissler. 1997. The New Oxford Book of Food Plants (revised and updated edition). Oxford University Press, New York.