(From sweet, and a root). Liquiritia; dulcis radix; and adifison; glycyrr-hiza glabra Lin. Sp. Pl 1046. Smooth legumined, or common Liquorice, is a plant with oval leaves, set in pairs along a middle rib; the flowers are small, bluish, and papilionaceous, standing in spikes on naked pedicles; followed by smooth pods, containing flat kidney shaped seeds: the root is long, slender, flexible, of a brownish colour on the outside, and yellow within. The plant is perennial, a native of the southern parts of Europe, and cultivated in England. The roots may be taken the third year after the slips or offsets have been planted. An inferior kind, the glycyrrhiza echinata, is sometimes substituted.
The English liquorice is equal to the foreign; and the root, when carefully dried and powdered, is of a richer and more agreeable taste than when fresh, of a dull yellow colour, but often adulterated by a mixture of flour. The dry root is not inferior to the fresh: but it may be kept moist even in dry sand; wet sand rots it.
Liquorice is almost the only saccharine substance that does not produce thirst; and it was consequently called adipson: but this quality arises from the necessity of chewing the root, and partly from the stimulus of a slight bitter combined with its sweetness. It covers the offensive taste of many unpalatable medicines, and does not readily ferment: it has been esteemed attenu-ant, detergent, diuretic, expectorant, and demulcent; though it has only properties similar to sugar, and is preferable only as a demulcent, since its expressed juice dissolves slowly. It yields all its virtue to water; but spirit dissolves less of the mucilage, and the spirituous tincture and extract are the sweetest.
The extract of liquorice, ordered to be prepared like that of camomile, would be best made by pressing the fresh roots betwixt iron rollers, and inspissating the juice. The usual extract is adulterated by a mixture of the pulp of prunes. See Lewis's Materia Medica, and Cullen's Materia Medica. Neumann's Chemical Works.
Glycyrrhiza trochisci. See Bechica.