Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Glycyrrhiza lepidota
SPECIES: Glycyrrhiza lepidota
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Esser, Lora L. 1994. Glycyrrhiza lepidota. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
On 2 March 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS
from: wild licorice
to: American licorice. Images were also added.
Glycyrrhiza glutinosa Nutt. 
NRCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
The scientific name of American licorice is Glycyrrhiza lepidota Pursh.
[13,17,18,47]. It is a member of the Fabaceae family. There are no recognized
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Glycyrrhiza lepidota
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
American licorice is native to temperate regions of western North America.
It occurs from Ontario west to British Columbia, south to California,
and east to Arkansas [13,18,24,27]. Disjunct populations of American
licorice occur in Maine, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts .
|Distribution of American licorice. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database.
National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, April 4] .
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES35 Pinyon - juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES38 Plains grasslands
AZ AR CA CO ID IL IA KS ME MA
MN MO MT NE NV NM NY ND OK OR
RI SD TX UT WA WY AB BC MB ON
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine - Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K040 Saltbush - greasewood
K051 Wheatgrass - bluegrass
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass
K065 Grama - buffalograss
K066 Wheatgrass - needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass
K070 Sandsage - bluestem prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K098 Northern floodplain forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
42 Bur oak
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
235 Cottonwood - willow
236 Bur oak
237 Interior ponderosa pine
239 Pinyon - juniper
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
American licorice occurs in a variety of habitats but is most often found in
prairie and other grassland communities or riparian areas. On native
tallgrass prairie in eastern North Dakota, American licorice is a member of
three community types: bluegrass-bluestem-needlegrass (Poa
spp.-Andropogon spp.-Stipa spp.), bromegrass (Bromus spp.)-bluegrass,
and bluegrass-sweetclover (Melilotus spp.). Associated plant species in
these communities include Louisiana sagewort (Artemisia ludoviciana),
western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis), field sowthistle
(Sonchus arvensis), heath aster (Aster ericoides), and northern bedstraw
(Galium boreale) . On mixed-grass prairie in North Dakota, American
licorice occurs in two community types: big bluestem-Indian grass
(Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Sorghastrum nutans) and a lowland
forb community dominated by Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus
maximiliani), Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), and prairie
dogbane (Apocynum sibericum) . American licorice is a member of the
plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides), quaking aspen-birch (P.
tremuloides-Betula spp.), and Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus
scopulorum) community types in western North Dakota .
In South Dakota, American licorice occurs in grasslands of the Black Hills
American licorice occurs in riparian areas dominated by plains cottonwood in
Colorado, North Dakota, and Utah [25,29,41]. Some common plant
associates in eastern Colorado include sandbar willow (Salix exigua),
peachleaf willow (S. amygdaloides), saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima),
Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii), eastern poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans),
Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), and western wheatgrass
(Pascopyrum smithii) [25,33].
SPECIES: Glycyrrhiza lepidota
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
American licorice is eaten by deer and pronghorn [7,37,42]. It is grazed in
the summer and early fall by mule deer in Colorado . In the Great
Plains, American licorice roots are eaten by plains pocket gophers, foliage
is eaten by deer and pronghorn, and seeds are eaten by birds and rodents
. In Utah and Wyoming, American licorice is eaten by deer, elk,
pronghorn, upland game birds, passerine birds, waterfowl, and small
Palatability ratings for American licorice from selected western states are
as follows :
CO MT ND UT WY
cattle poor poor poor poor poor
sheep fair fair fair fair fair
horses poor poor poor poor fair
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
American licorice is rated poor in nutritional value for pronghorn and fair
for elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, upland game birds, waterfowl,
small nongame birds, and small mammals . Energy rating is fair and
protein content is poor .
COVER VALUE :
American licorice cover values are as follows :
MT UT WY
pronghorn poor poor
elk poor poor
mule deer poor poor
white-tailed deer poor
small mammals fair good
small nongame birds fair good
upland game birds poor fair
waterfowl good poor fair
In South Dakota, American licorice is used for shade by sharp-tailed grouse
during the brood season .
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
American licorice has good potential for revegtation of disturbed and denuded
lands [2,3,5,17], but may be difficult to establish due to restrictive
habitat requirements . It has good soil-binding capabilities and
can be used for soil stabilization [6,20]. In North Dakota, American
licorice was directly seeded and container-grown seedlings were
transplanted onto coal mine spoils. Both methods resulted in the
production of successful stands of American licorice, although the
transplant method resulted in more rapid growth of seedlings. Estimated
number of seedlings produced in one growing season on mine spoil plots
was 22.3 per square foot (248/sq m) [1,2].
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
Native Americans of the Great Plains used American licorice for medicinal
and nutritional purposes. The Lakota used American licorice as a fever
remedy for children. Steeped leaves were used for earaches, and the
roots were chewed and held in the mouth to relieve toothaches and sore
throats. The roots were also eaten for nourishment [37,44].
The sweet roots of American licorice contain glycyrrhizin, which is used by
druggists and confectioners .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
American licorice has potential as a valuable forage and conservation
species throughout the Great Plains. However, three species of the
bruchid beetle may have substantial impacts on seed production of American licorice.
The bruchid beetle seed predators are Acanthoscelides
aureolus, A. fraterculus, and Bruchophagus grisselli [5,6,50]. In North
and South Dakota, seed predation by A. fraterculus reduced viable seed
production by 7 to 71 percent .
American licorice can become a serious weed on fertile soils in Arizona
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Glycyrrhiza lepidota
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
American licorice is a native, perennial, leguminous forb that grows from 1
to 4 feet (0.3-1.2 m) tall [18,28,37,44]. It may form colonies by
adventitious shoots from roots and deep-seated rhizomes
[13,19,24,43,44]. Rhizomes are many-branched and may grow up to several
feet long . Leaves are 0.8 to 2.8 inches (2-7 cm) long and 0.16 to
0.8 inch (4-20 mm) wide [13,37]. Legumes are indehiscent, sessile, and
bur-like with hooked prickles, and are O.4 to 0.6 inch (12-15 mm) long
[16,28,37,43]. Seeds are 0.08 to 0.12 inch (2-3 mm) long .
In addition to rhizomes, American licorice has an extensive system of deep,
fleshy roots .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Vegetative: American licorice spreads vigorously by sprouting from rhizomes
Sexual: American licorice produces abundant seeds with relatively low
germination rates, which can be increased with scarification .
Seeds were collected from native ranges in western North Dakota. Three
storage treatments were applied to separate lots of seed. Germination
results (in %) were :
room Temp storage dry cold storage wet cold storage
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jan Feb Mar Apr May
65 80 75 77 79 57 71 61 56 60 77 52 69 75 55
The hooked prickles of American licorice seedpods adhere to animals so the
fruits are widely dispersed .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
American licorice occurs in fields, meadows, borrow ditches, and along
roadsides [16,17,19,34,44]. It occurs in open, unshaded areas on
disturbed soils [17,32,44]. It is a facultative wetland species, most
commonly found in moist areas such as terraces, seeps, streambanks, wet
meadows, floodplains, and along lakeshores [17,37,43,46,,47].
American licorice grows best on moist to semiwet soils with good drainage
[13,15,17]. It grows best on loam, sandy loam, and clayey loam soils,
but occurs on gravelly substrates as well [35,46].
Elevations for American licorice for several states are as follows:
Arizona 2,000-7,000 600-2,100 
California <7,500 <2,250 
Colorado 4,000-8,500 1,200-2,550 [16,46]
Montana 6,600-7,500 1,980-2,250 
North Dakota 1,930-2,640 585-800 
Utah 3,300-8,100 990-2,430 
Wyoming 3,700-7,600 1,110-2,280 
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
American licorice is an aggressive colonizer of disturbed riparian habitats
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
American licorice flowering dates for several states are as follows:
Arizona May-July 
California May-July 
Colorado Jun-Aug 
Great Plains July-Sep [47,48]
Illinois Jun-Aug 
Montana July 
Nebraska June-July 
North Dakota Jun-Aug 
Utah Jun-Aug 
Wyoming Jun-Sep 
SPECIES: Glycyrrhiza lepidota
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
American licorice probably survives fire by sprouting from rhizomes. It may
also colonize from off-site seed.
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
Geophyte, growing points deep in soil
Secondary colonizer - off-site seed
SPECIES: Glycyrrhiza lepidota
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
American licorice is probably top-killed by fire. At the Woodworth Station
in North Dakota, a mixed-grass prairie was burned in May 1970 to
determine the effect of fire on wildlife populations. American licorice was
a component of the prairie that was burned. During postfire year 1,
American licorice was reported as showing "no change" in percent cover, that
is, cover change was between +99% and -49% . In North Dakota, a
bluegrass-sweetclover prairie containing American licorice was burned in
1964; the following year, herbage production on burned and unburned
plots was comparable .
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
American licorice probably sprouts from rhizomes following fire.
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
SPECIES: Glycyrrhiza lepidota
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