Colonial by creeping roots; stems to 1 m, the younger parts and the lower side of the lfls dotted with minute glands; lfls 11-19, oblong or lanceolate, those of the main axis 2.5-5 cm, the others smaller and narrower; racemes erect, dense, shorter than the subtending lvs; fls pale yellow, 12-15 mm; fr 1.5 cm, brown, densely beset with hooked prickles; 2n=16. Moist prairies; Minn. to Alta. and Wash., s. to Ark., Tex., and Calif. and intr. in disturbed sites farther east. May, June. Our native plant, var. lepidota, has minutely pubescent stems; the far-western var. glutinosa (Nutt.) S. Watson, with the stem stipitate-glandular, is adventive in Va.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
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Springer et al. 2008, Heil et al. 2013
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Aromatic perennial herbs, 30-120 cm tall, from stout, deep-seated roots; stems erect, simple or branched; herbage pubescent with basifixed hairs and sessile or stalked glands, often sticky to the touch. Leaves: Alternate and pinnately compound, 8-18 cm long, with 9-19 leaflets per leaf; leaflets 2-5 cm long, narrowly ovate, oblong, elliptic, or lanceolate, with pointed tips and entire margins; lower leaflet surfaces glandular-punctate; stipules lance-acuminate, 3-10 mm long. Flowers: White to cream-colored, in loose, terminal and axillary racemes up to 20 cm long; each flower subtended by an ovate- lanceolate, pubescent bract, up to 6 mm long; flowers about 1 cm long, with pea-flower morphology (papilionaceous); calyx bilabiate, the upper lip two-cleft, puberulent; corolla white, cream, or purplish-pink. Fruits: Pods ovate or oblong-linear, 1-2 cm long and 4-6 mm wide, covered with stout, erect, hooked bristles. Ecology: Found on streambanks, riverbanks, and roadsides, in coniferous forests and meadows, from 2,000-7,000 ft (762-2134 m); flowers June-September. Distribution: Throughout central and western N. Amer., from CAN to MEX Notes: This rhizomatous perennial herb resembles an exceptionally large Astragalus with spiny, cocklebur-like seed pods. Look for it along stream banks. It has good soil-stabilizing capabilities and may be used in restoration plantings and for erosion control. It is a host plant for gray hairstreak, marine blue, Reakirt's blue, Melissa blue, and silverspotted skipper butterflies. Ethnobotany: The Navajo use a concoction of the root as a laxative; Hopi use the root as a breath freshener. Etymology: Glycyrrhiza translates to sweet root; lepidota means covered with small scales, alluding to the glands on the leaves which appear as small scales when the leaves are young. Synonyms: Glycyrrhiza glutinosa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota var. glutinosa Editor: AHazelton 2017