Glycyrrhiza lepidota (Wild Licorice)

Plant Info
Also known as: American Licorice
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; average to moist soil; fields, prairies, railroads, roadsides, creekbanks, disturbed areas
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:12 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Spike cluster, cone-shaped to cylindrical, 1 to 2 inches long arising from leaf axils. Flowers are white, cream, or pale yellow, about ½ inch long, pea-shaped with a long, erect upper petal. The cluster and its stalk are shorter than the subtending leaf.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 11 to 19 leaflets. Leaflets are up to 1½ inches long and ½ wide, tapering to pointed or blunt tip, rounded or slightly tapered at the base, stalkless or nearly so, and often fold up some from the central vein especially when young. Edges are toothless, surfaces are hairless but gland-dotted, especially on the underside. Stems are erect, branched or not, weakly ridged, and typically gland-dotted.

Fruit: Fruit type: barbed Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Each flower is replaced by an oblong green pod, about ½ inch long, covered in hooked bristles and containing a few seeds. As the pods ripen the color changes to coppery brown, then dark brown. The pods remain through the winter.


Wild Licorice may create small colonies from creeping rhizomes.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Bill - NW Pennington county
on: 2014-03-30 09:19:52

The Wild Licorice grows all over my wood lot and many others in the area.

Posted by: Larry - Dodge County
on: 2015-08-05 11:47:57

I got photos of this plant in the Iron Horse Prairie Scientific and Natural Area. I had never seen it before. Joel at Rice Lake State Park and a local enthusiast, Merilee McNeilus helped me identify it.

Posted by: Merlin S - Ramsey County
on: 2018-07-04 14:47:16

I recently discovered this plant behind my house, growing next to native Jacob's Ladder and Solomon's Seal. I haven't seen it before, and I have no idea where this one came from. I'm a little concerned about it spreading by rhizome, since space in that area is limited, but I'll leave it for now.

Posted by: Norma Malinowski - Ely
on: 2018-07-11 13:15:34

Found several plants growing along the trail between the Winton Treatment Ponds and the Shagawa River in Ely, MN.

Posted by: Gary - Carlton County
on: 2020-01-15 12:34:53

This and Astragalus canadensis are growing along the Munger Trail in the area where Douglas Road and HWY 61 meet.

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