Liquorice (Br) or licorice (Am) is the plant, Glycyrrhiza glabra, in the Family Fabaceae from which a sweet flavour can be extracted. The liquorice plant is a legume related to beans and pea and native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. Very little commercial liquorice is grown in North America, but wild liquorice (G. lepidota) is quite common.
Liquorice is a highly effective cough remedy (expectorant), and has been used for this purpose since ancient times.
Liquorice extract is produced by boiling liquorice root and subsequently evaporating all or most of the water. Liquorice extract is traded both in solid and syrup form. Its active principle is glycyrrhizin, a sweetener more than 50 times as sweet as sucrose.
The flavour is common in medicines to disguise unpleasant flavours. Liquorice can also be found in many candies. The most popular in the United Kingdom and North America are very sweet Liquorice Allsorts. In continental Europe, however, far stronger, saltier, candies are preferred. Liquorice is also found in some soft drinks.
Liquorice is a mild laxative.
The word liquorice means 'sweet root' in Ancient Greek.