Medicinal plants

Licorice cultivation

Features licorice

The most passionate admirers of licorice know it well: there are 18 varieties of this perennial herb that grows spontaneously in the Mediterranean area and in Southern Italy. Its cultivation can be easily carried out in areas where it is already present also as spontaneous vegetation and can also adapt to other areas of Italy where the cold season is not too rigid, although in principle it is a rustic plant and resistant. Licorice, belonging to the Fabaceae family, reaches one meter in height and requires space to grow: the roots of the plant are mainly used, which must be able to develop at their best. The intense flavor of the products deriving from this Mediterranean plant has been worth its fortune since ancient times: licorice has been used for many centuries because of its flavor, but also for the beneficial properties it is able to offer. Its diffusion is very vast: alongside the Mediterranean area, other areas also host native species of licorice, such as Australia, Asia and America.

Licorice cultivation


The cultivation of licorice takes place easily in the Mediterranean areas, where the climate is particularly favorable to its development even spontaneously. For healthy and luxuriant plants, however, it is good to take care of some details and adapt the cultivation conditions to the natural needs of the plant. Licorice has its most precious resource in its roots: it is therefore important that they have sufficient space to grow and develop and that they can be defended from the risk of water stagnation, which could lead to the death of the plant. Watering, therefore, should be regular and more frequent than abundant. In the winter period they can be suspended, in such a way as to let the plant face its natural rest period that characterizes the vegetative cycle, while they will be more frequent during the summer, when the plant will suffer the effect of exposure to sunlight. Licorice, in fact, does not fear the light, as long as the soil is not too dry, and benefits from an arrangement that allows it to receive direct lighting for a few hours every day. Licorice prefers mild temperatures and must be protected from strong winds and harsh winters, which are the Achilles’ heel for this otherwise very hardy plant. In winter, the plant may seem dead: in reality, if sufficiently protected from the cold, it will begin to grow and sprout again with the arrival of the following spring. provided the ground is not too dry, and benefits from an arrangement that allows it to receive direct lighting for a few hours each day. Licorice prefers mild temperatures and must be protected from strong winds and harsh winters, which are the Achilles’ heel for this otherwise very hardy plant. In winter, the plant may seem dead: in reality, if sufficiently protected from the cold, it will begin to grow and sprout again with the arrival of the following spring. provided the ground is not too dry, and benefits from an arrangement that allows it to receive direct lighting for a few hours each day. Licorice prefers mild temperatures and must be protected from strong winds and harsh winters, which are the Achilles’ heel for this otherwise very hardy plant. In winter, the plant may seem dead: in reality, if sufficiently protected from the cold, it will begin to grow and sprout again with the arrival of the following spring.

Diseases and parasites


The fact that the licorice plant is able to adapt even to poor soils and is able to resist water shortages and climatic conditions that are not always favorable does not mean that nothing can damage their health and jeopardize their survival. Licorice can be attacked by some parasites which, if not countered, can lead the plant to death. The main enemies of licorice are mushrooms: for this reason, during the cultivation phases, it is advisable to avoid recreating an environment suitable to favor its proliferation. Therefore, it is better to avoid water stagnations, as well as too shady environments and where the air circulates with difficulty, since these characteristics, in addition to being harmful to the plant, they can be favorable to the development of fungal diseases which, even if initially limited, if not counteracted can lead to the death of the plant. A danger for the roots is also represented by beetles: to prevent both organisms from spreading and affecting licorice, it is possible to periodically resort to a broad-spectrum pesticide, to be exploited during the recovery period of the plant’s vegetative cycle. and until the rest period.

Licorice cultivation: Harvesting of roots


As seen, the most precious and used part of licorice is constituted by the roots, which offer the possibility of exploiting the active principles of licorice as a beneficial tool for the body and at the service of taste. The preparation of liquorice-based products can also take place at home, as long as the roots are harvested at the most suitable times and in the correct manner, to avoid damaging the plant, compromising the development of the following year. Harvesting takes place from the third year of the plant’s life, to allow it to grow enough and develop sufficient roots. Before harvesting, pruning will be practically integral to the aerial parts, after which it will be possible to dig a hole of about 50 cm, sufficient to reach the roots, that will be eradicated. Care must be taken not to eliminate all the rhizomes, to allow the plant to develop again the following year. Once harvested, the roots must be peeled and left to dry, before being cut into pieces or powder and subsequently processed.

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