American licorice is a colony-forming species that grows in moist locations along our waterways. The sweet root is said to be reminiscent of traditional licorice, although the latter comes from a European species.
This species is slow to wake up in the spring, but eventually it produces cream-colored flowers, and in the fall velcro-like pods are full of small bean-like seeds. American licorice is a legume, and it fixes atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, effectively fertilizing the soil for itself (and neighboring species). This gives it an edge in poor sandy soils, and makes it a good option for restoring disturbed areas.
First image by Stan Shebs CC BY-SA 3.0
- Glycyrrhiza lepidota