The Liquorice or licorice plant is a perennial herb and is the common name of Glycyrrhiza glabra, a flowering plant of the bean family Fabaceae, from the root of which a sweet, aromatic flavouring can be extracted.
The liquorice plant is a herbaceous perennial legume native to Western Asia and southern Europe.
It is not botanically closely related to anise or fennel, which are sources of similar flavouring compounds. (Another such source, star anise, is even more distant from anise and fennel than liquorice is, despite its similar common name.) Liquorice is used as a flavouring in candies and tobacco, particularly in some European and West Asian countries.
The licorice plant is a perennial herb, growing up to 1 m in tall, with pinnate leaves about 7-15 cm long, with 9-17 leaflets. The flowers are 0.8–1.2 cm long, purple to pale whitish blue, produced in a loose inflorescence. The fruit is an oblong pod, 2-3 cm long, containing several seeds. The flavor of liquorice comes mainly from a sweet-tasting compound called anethole, an aromatic, unsaturated ether compound also found in anise, fennel, and other herbs. Additional sweetness in liquorice comes from glycyrrhizic acid, an anti-viral compound sweeter than sugar. Liquorice flavouring is also used in soft drinks, and in some herbal teas where it provides a sweet aftertaste. The flavour is common in medicines to disguise unpleasant flavours.
Liquorice may be useful in conventional and naturopathic medicine for both mouth ulcers and peptic ulcers. In traditional Chinese medicine, liquorice is commonly used in herbal formulae to "harmonize" the other ingredients in the formula and to carry the formula to the twelve "regular meridians" and to relieve a spasmodic cough.
Liquorice is used for rheumatism, bile, cough, fever, shortness of breath, cancer and skin diseases. In addition, They are also used in the manufacture of ointments, tinctures, powders, and oils.