You often see me with a licorice stick in my mouth. And I just love the plant that produced it: licorice, or Glycyrrhiza glabra. Just a word of warning, regular and frequent use of licorice root is not a good idea if you have high blood pressure. But I don’t, so I can chew away on a piece of licorice root. It also cleans my teeth, which is a bonus.
As said, licorice root raises blood pressure. Very useful in case of adrenal fatigue, for example, where low blood pressure is often a symptom. But it does an awful lot more. It has a variety of effects on the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract. It actually has an incredibly wide range of effects, from sex hormone regulation to helping with skin conditions. The list of workings in this monograph is therefore very long.
But liquorice is also a useful plant in magic, although the application in that area is a lot more focused. Liquorice has a magical effect on all kinds of indications that have to do with both love and lust.
Licorice is a large shrub, up to 2 metres high and at least a meter wide. The root system of licorice root is impressive in size. The main root goes up to 5 metres deep and the lateral roots can grow up to 8 metres long. These stolons have a sweet taste, are dark brown and ribbed on the outside, and yellow on the inside. These are the parts we all know as licorice sticks.
The rest of the plant has a sturdy, pannose, furrowed, hollow stem, which does not branch out much. The compound leaves can be found on the lateral branches. These are imparipinnate and consist of 7 to 15 oblong leaflets. These are sticky on the underside due to the oil glands present.
The papilionaceous flowers grow in racemes from the leaf axil and are lilac, purple or blue in colour. After flowering the long, flat pods with brown oval seeds follow.
Licorice root is the primary ingredient in the sweet called licorice, which was originally made by adding flour and sugar to licorice extract.
Licorice root has been used medicinally for a long time, but did not become a familiar sight throughout Europe until the 15th century.
Another useful variety is Glycyrrhiza uralensis.