Glycyrrhiza

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Glycyrrhiza

 

(licorice), a genus of plants of the family Leguminosae. The plants are perennial herbs with a thick, spreading rhizome. The leaves are oddly pinnate and often sticky; the flowers are usually lilac-colored and in axillary racemes. The fruit is a one- to eight-seeded pod.

There are about 15 species, which are distributed in North Africa, Australia, and the temperate and subtropical zones of Eurasia and the Americas. The USSR has seven species, which grow mainly in the steppe, semidesert, and desert zones. The most common species are the common licorice (G. glabra), which is found in the southern European USSR, the Caucasus, Kazakhstan, and Middle Asia, and G. uralensis, which occurs in Southern Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Middle Asia. The plants grow mainly on floodplains, in river valleys, and on mountain slopes, often forming a thick cover. Sometimes they grow as weeds amid crops. Both species are used for hay and silage; they are also the principal source of licorice.

Licorice (the rhizome and roots) contains glycosides, sucrose, flavonoids, essential oil, vitamin C, yellow pigment, mineral salts, and pectins. Expectorants are produced from the dried roots and shoots. The root is an ingredient in diuretic tea; it is also used in preparing pills and for improving the taste of medicines. The medicinal preparation Liquiritonum, which is used to treat gastritis and gastric and duodenal ulcers, is obtained from the roots. The root is also used in beer brewing, candy production, cooking, and various industrial purposes.

REFERENCE

Atlas lekarstvennykh rastenii SSSR. Moscow, 1962.

T. V. EGOROVA