Aromatic plants: Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra L.

Aromatic plants: Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra L.

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Family: Fabaceae (ex Leguminose)
Species: Glycyrrhiza glabrto L. 1758


It is a perennial herbaceous plant 50-100 cm high from whose roots licorice is extracted. It is a species native to the eastern Mediterranean and southwestern Asia. In Italy it is cultivated and sometimes wild in the southern region. Calabria boasts a centenary tradition in the production of licorice. The Amarelli company, founded by Giorgio Amarelli in Rossano Calabro, is the only one active in Europe in the production of licorice. It grows from the plane at 1000 meters above sea level.

Licorice - Glycyrrhiza glabra L. 1758

Licorice Roots - Glycyrrhiza glabra L. 1758

Botanical characters

It has long woody roots. The stems are erect, supple. The imparipinnate leaves composed of 9-15 oval or elliptical leaflets.
The flowers are blue-violet or whitish and gathered in loose and elongated racemes. The fruit is a leathery, hairless legume or with few bristles.

Collection and conservation

The roots are taken, in autumn, from plants that are at least three years old. They are cleaned from the side roots, washed, cut into pieces and dried in the oven without exceeding 40 ° C. They are then stored in a dry place.
Juice extraction is carried out hot by means of boiling water jets. The liquorice juice is separated from the root residues, clarified and concentrated by boiling in open boilers, exclusively with mechanical-physical processes.
The solidified concentrate can be worked with hot extrusion processes. Finally, the black, dense, shiny and fragrant paste passes through some machines that give it the desired shape (broken, rhombuses, etc.).

Therapeutic properties

Emollients, expectorants, laxatives. For external use as oral anti-inflammatory. The most important active ingredient in licorice is glycyrrhizin.

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