Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Glycyrrhiza lepidota (I think)

I took this picture in Colorado while hiking. The seed pods were so striking. There are three species of this plant.

Jude got me to do some research and I find that it is a plant from the licorice family which related to the pea family. Spikey seed pods such as these are rare in the pea family.

Now I wish I had picked some leaves or the roots and taste tested for licorice. While it is not everyone's favorite, I like the flavor. More information on this interesting plant can be found here.

If you don't have time to read the above link it is native to the United States and considered to be invasive. It also is considered to improve the soil and thus has a split 'personality.'

"Blackfoot Indians used wild licorice leaves to make poultices for earaches. Roots were used for toothache, fever and to strengthen the voice for singing. Clinically wild licorice is useful against gastric and duodenal ulcers, bronchial asthma and is an additive in cough syrups . Wild licorice can increase blood pressure."

and more:

"Licorice was so valued in ancient Egypt that King Tutankhamen was buried with a supply. In Shosoin, licorice stored for 1,200 years was tested for the active ingredients and it still contained glycyrrhizin."

Such exotica in a field in Colorado!