Fire Effects Information System (FEIS)
FEIS Home Page

Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Glycyrrhiza lepidota
American licorice. Image by Robert Tatina, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1992. Western wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. West Region, Sacramento.



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: []. Revisions: On 2 March 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: wild licorice to: American licorice. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION : GLYLEP SYNONYMS : Glycyrrhiza glutinosa Nutt. [51] NRCS PLANT CODE : COMMON NAMES : American licorice wild licorice TAXONOMY : 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 infrataxa. LIFE FORM : Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


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 [34].
Distribution of American licorice. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, April 4] [38].

   FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES30  Desert shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES36  Mountain grasslands
   FRES38  Plains grasslands
   FRES39  Prairie

     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

    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

   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
   K039  Blackbrush
   K040  Saltbush - greasewood
   K041  Creosotebush
   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

    42  Bur oak
    63  Cottonwood
   217  Aspen
   220  Rocky Mountain juniper
   235  Cottonwood - willow
   236  Bur oak
   237  Interior ponderosa pine
   239  Pinyon - juniper


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) [15].  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) [26].  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 [41].

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 [7]. 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 [7]. In Utah and Wyoming, American licorice is eaten by deer, elk, pronghorn, upland game birds, passerine birds, waterfowl, and small mammals [46]. PALATABILITY : Palatability ratings for American licorice from selected western states are as follows [45]: 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 [45]. Energy rating is fair and protein content is poor [46]. COVER VALUE : American licorice cover values are as follows [46]: 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 [14]. 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 [17]. 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 [22]. 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 [6]. American licorice can become a serious weed on fertile soils in Arizona [20].


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 [42]. 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 [44]. In addition to rhizomes, American licorice has an extensive system of deep, fleshy roots [42]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Hemicryptophyte Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Vegetative: American licorice spreads vigorously by sprouting from rhizomes [1,2,6,19,44]. Sexual: American licorice produces abundant seeds with relatively low germination rates, which can be increased with scarification [37]. Seeds were collected from native ranges in western North Dakota. Three storage treatments were applied to separate lots of seed. Germination results (in %) were [2]: 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 [37]. 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: feet meters Arizona 2,000-7,000 600-2,100 [20] California <7,500 <2,250 [28] Colorado 4,000-8,500 1,200-2,550 [16,46] Montana 6,600-7,500 1,980-2,250 [46] North Dakota 1,930-2,640 585-800 [41] Utah 3,300-8,100 990-2,430 [46] Wyoming 3,700-7,600 1,110-2,280 [46] SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : American licorice is an aggressive colonizer of disturbed riparian habitats [5,17]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : American licorice flowering dates for several states are as follows: Arizona May-July [20] California May-July [28] Colorado Jun-Aug [46] Great Plains July-Sep [47,48] Illinois Jun-Aug [27] Montana July [46] Nebraska June-July [34] North Dakota Jun-Aug [46] Utah Jun-Aug [46] Wyoming Jun-Sep [46]


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% [21]. 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 [15]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : American licorice probably sprouts from rhizomes following fire. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Glycyrrhiza lepidota
REFERENCES : 1. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 2. Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Whitman, Warren C. 1982. Perennial forbs for wildlife habitat restoration on mined lands in the northern Great Plains. In: Western proceedings, 62nd annual conference of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; 1982 July 19-22; Las Vegas, Nevada. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]: 257-271. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Lab, Missoula, MT. [2932] 3. Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Whitman, Warren C. 1989. Promising native forbs for seeding on mine spoils. In: Walker, D. G.; Powter, C. B.; Pole, M. W., compilers. Reclamation, a global perspective: Proceedings of the conference; 1989 August 27-31; Calgary, AB. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Land Conservation and Reclamation Council: 255-262. [14354] 4. Blake, Abigail Kincaid. 1935. Viability and germination of seeds and early life history of prairie plants. Ecological Monographs. 5(4): 405-460. [22086] 5. Boe, A.; McDaniel, B.; Robins, K. 1988. Patterns of American licorice seed predation by Acanthoscelides aureolus (Horn) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae) in South Dakota. Journal of Range Management. 41(4): 342-345. [5220] 6. Boe, A.; Wynia, R. 1985. Seed predation, seedling emergence, and rhizome characteristics of American licorice. Journal of Range Management. 38(5): 400-402. [11153] 7. Dietz, Donald R.; Nagy, Julius G. 1976. Mule deer nutrition and plant utilization. In: Workman; Low, eds. Mule deer decline in the West: A symposium; [Date of conference unknown]; [Location of conference unknown]. [Logan], UT: College of Natural Resources, Utah Agriculture Experiment Station: 71-78. [6909] 8. Dorn, Robert D. 1977. Flora of the Black Hills. [Place of publication unknown]: Robert D. Dorn and Jane L. Dorn. 377 p. [820] 9. Dorn, Robert D. 1984. Vascular plants of Montana. Cheyenne, WY: Mountain West Publishing. 276 p. [819] 10. Dorn, Robert D. 1988. Vascular plants of Wyoming. Cheyenne, WY: Mountain West Publishing. 340 p. [6129] 11. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 12. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 13. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329] 14. Grosz, Kevin Lee. 1988. Sharp-tailed grouse nesting and brood rearing habitat in grazed and nongrazed treatments in southcentral North Dakota. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. 72 p. M.S. thesis. [5491] 15. Hadley, E. B.; Buccos, R. P. 1967. Plant community composition and net primary production within a native eastern North Dakota prairie. American Midland Naturalist. 77: 116-127. [11422] 16. Harrington, H. D. 1964. Manual of the plants of Colorado. 2d ed. Chicago: The Swallow Press Inc. 666 p. [6851] 17. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992] 18. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168] 19. Holmgren, Arthur H. 1958. Weeds of Utah. Special Report 12. Logan, UT: Utah State University, Agricultural Experiment Station. 85 p. [2935] 20. Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock, Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085 p. [6563] 21. Kirsch, Leo M.; Kruse, Arnold D. 1973. Prairie fires and wildlife. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. Number 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 289-303. [8472] 22. Krochmal, A.; Paur, S.; Duisberg, P. 1954. Useful native plants in the American Southwestern deserts. Economic Botany. 8: 3-20. [2766] 23. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 24. Lackschewitz, Klaus. 1991. Vascular plants of west-central Montana--identification guidebook. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-227. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 648 p. [13798] 25. Lindauer, Ivo E. 1983. A comparison of the plant communities of the South Platte and Arkansas River drainages in eastern Colorado. Southwestern Naturalist. 28(3): 249-259. [5886] 26. Meyer, Marvis I. 1985. Classification of native vegetation at the Woodworth Station, North Dakota. Prairie Naturalist. 17(3): 167-175. [5432] 27. Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 1986. (Revised edition). Guide to the vascular flora of Illinois. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. 507 p. [17383] 28. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155] 29. Pammel, L. H. 1903. Some ecological notes on the vegetation of the Uintah Mountains. In: Proceedings, Iowa Academy of Sciences. 10: 57-68. [16302] 30. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 31. Rosentreter, Roger. 1984. The zonation of mosses and lichens along the Salmon River in Idaho. Northwest Science. 58(2): 108-117. [21588] 32. Rosentreter, Roger. 1992. High-water indicator plants along Idaho waterways. In: Clary, Warren P.; McArthur, E. Durant; Bedunah, Don; Wambolt, Carl L., compilers. Proceedings--symposium on ecology and management of riparian shrub communities; 1991 May 29-31; Sun Valley, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-289. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 18-24. [19090] 33. Sedgwick, James A.; Knopf, Fritz L. 1991. Prescribed grazing as a secondary impact in a western riparian floodplain. Journal of Range Management. 44(4): 369-373. [15091] 34. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604] 35. Shupe, J. B.; Brotherson, J. D.; Rushforth, S. R. 1986. Patterns of vegetation surrounding springs in Goshen Bay, Utah County, Utah, U.S.A. Hydrobiologia. 139: 97-107. [17321] 36. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 37. Stubbendiek, James; Conard, Elverne C. 1989. Common legumes of the Great Plains: an illustrated guide. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 330 p. [11049] 38. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available: [34262] 39. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey. [n.d.]. NP Flora [Data base]. Davis, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey. [23119] 40. Uresk, Daniel W.; Lowrey, Dennis G. 1984. Cattle diets in the central Black Hills of South Dakota. In: Noble, Daniel L.; Winokur, Robert P., eds. Wooded draws: characteristics and values for the Northern Great Plains: Symposium proceedings; 1984 June 12-13; Rapid City, SD. Great Plains Agricultural Council Pub. No. 111. Rapid City, SD: South Dakota School of Mines and Technology: 50-52. [2400] 41. Wali, M. K.; Killingbeck, K. T.; Bares, R. H.; Shubert, L. E. 1980. Vegetation-environment relationships of woodland and shrub communities, and soil algae in western North Dakota. ND REAP Project No. 7-01-1, No. 79-16. Grand Forks, ND: University of North Dakota, Department of Biology, Project of the North Dakota Regional Environmental Assessment Program (REAP). 159 p. [7433] 42. Weaver, J. E. 1968. Prairie plants and their environment: A fifty-year study in the Midwest. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 276 p. [17548] 43. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944] 44. Whitson, Tom D., ed. 1987. Weeds and poisonous plants of Wyoming and Utah. Res. Rep. 116-USU. Laramie, WY: University of Wyoming, College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service. 281 p. [2939] 45. Boggs, Keith; Hansen, Paul; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John. 1990. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in northwestern Montana. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana Riparian Association. 217 p. Draft Version 1. [8447] 46. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806] 47. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603] 48. Larson, Gary E. 1993. Aquatic and wetland vascular plants of the Northern Great Plains. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-238. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 681 p. [22534] 49. Reed, Porter B., Jr. 1988. National list of plant species that occur in wetlands: California (Region O). Biological Report 88(26.10). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. In cooperation with: National and Regional Interagency Review Panels. 135 p. [9312] 50. McDaniel, B.; Boe, A. 1991. A new Bruchophagus from Glycyrrhiza lepidota Pursh. in the Northern Great Plains (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Eurytomidae). Proceedings of the Entomology Society of Washington. 93(3): 776-783. [24043] 51. Kartesz, John T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume II--thesaurus. 2nd ed. Portland, OR: Timber Press. 816 p. [23878]

FEIS Home Page