It is a herbaceous perennial, growing to 1 m in height, with pinnate leaves about 7–15 cm (2.8–5.9 in) long, with 9–17 leaflets. The flowers are 0.8–1.2 cm (1⁄3–1⁄2 in) long, purple to pale whitish blue, produced in a loose inflorescence. The fruit is an oblong pod, 2–3 cm (3⁄4–1 1⁄6 in) long, containing several seeds. The roots are stoloniferous.
Much of the sweetness in liquorice comes from glycyrrhizin
The scent of liquorice root comes from a complex and variable combination of compounds, of which anethole is up to 3% of total volatiles. Much of the sweetness in liquorice comes from glycyrrhizin, which has a sweet taste, 30–50 times the sweetness of sugar. The sweetness is very different from sugar, being less instant, tart, and lasting longer.
The isoflavene glabrene and the isoflavane glabridin, found in the roots of liquorice, are phytoestrogens.
Cultivation and uses