Liquorice, or Glycyrrhixa, L. a genus of exotic plants, comprising two species, the principal of which is the glabra, or Common Liquorice, Its long, thick, creeping roots strike several feet deep in the ground; the stalk often attains the height of five feet, and the red or blue flowers appear between the mucilaginous leaves, in the month of July.
This plant is propagated by cuttings of the fibres that issue from the parent-root, near the surface of the earth : they should be divided into sets of six or eight inches in length, each having, at least, one good bud or eye, and planted in February, or in the beginning of March. A light, sandy, and very deep soil should be selected, well manured, and dug three spades deep.- The sets ought to be put in the ground by means of a line and dibble, at the distance of \1 inches, in rows, with their tops about an inch under the surface ; and the rows should be a foot and a half distant from each other.
In three years after planting, the roots of the liquorice will be sufficiently large, and may be taken up between the months of November and February; for this operation should neither be commenced before the stalks are fully decayed, nor delayed till late in spring; in which latter case, the roots are apt to shrivel and diminish in weight. Hence, it is advisable to sell them almost immediately after they are removed from the field. They are vended to the druggists at from 20s. to 30s. or 40s. per cwt.; and an acre of good land produces 3000 roots and upwards ; so that the produce has sometimes exceeded 601.
The common liquorice is cultivated in most countries of Europe, for the sake of its sweet mucila-ginous root: but that of British growth is preferable to the foreign, which is generally mouldy when it arrives; as this vegetable, unless preserved in a dry place, is remarkably liable to such corruption.—In order to extract the juice, the Italians first cut the root in pieces, then moisten and crush it in a mill; thus it is formed into a mass similar to dough, which is boiled for eight hours, and occasionally supplied with water. Next, it is twice pressed, so that all the mucilage may be completely separated : in this state it is slowly evaporated in another cauldron for twenty-four hours, or such time as is required to reduce - No.IX.—vol. ii it to a proper consistence. When cool, it is cut into cakes, either of a square or. cylindrical form, and packed in chests with bay-leaves.
The powder of liquorice, usually sold, is often adulterated with flour, and probably also with articles less wholesome : the best sort is of a brownish-yellow, of a very rich sweet taste, and more grateful than that of the fresh root. As this vegetable is one of the few sweet substances tending to allay thirst, it was employed by Galen in dropsical cases,' with a mistaken view to prevent the necessity of drinking. There is, however, no doubt of its gently detergent qualities, which render it an excellent medicine in coughs, hoarseness, asthma, etc.; for lubricating the throat, softening acrimonious hu-mours, and affording relief to the organs of respiration. But, with this intention, it ought to be taken as a diet-drink, in considerable portions, by way of infusion ; while the patient should abstain from tea, and other hot liquids, which only i :undate the stomach, and aggravate the complaint.
In domestic economy, the sound roots of the liquorice may be employed as stopples for beer or wine-bottles, being more wholesome and durable than those made of cork.— Bohmer informs us, that sour ale or beer may be completely restored, by suspending in the cask a linen bag containing liquorice-powder, with a small portion of chalk and pot-ash. This assertion is strongly supported by the account of Town-send ; who, in the 2d volume of his Travels through Spain, observes, that of the 200 tons weight of liquorice, or Spanish Juice, annually produced in that kingdom, a considerable part is imported into London, for the use of our porter-breweries.