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licorice

licorice lĭk´ərĭs, –rĭsh [key], name for a European plant (Glycyrrhiza glabra) of the family Leguminosae (pulse family) and for the sweet substance obtained from the root. Since early times the root has been used medicinally (for coughs and as a laxative); it is used also in brewing, for confectionery, and for flavoring (e.g., in some tobacco). The licorice plant, a perennial with blue pealike blossoms, is cultivated chiefly in the Middle East. Another species, the wild licorice (G. lepidota), is native to North America; other plants of similar flavor may be called licorice. Licorice is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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