Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis

Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis: A Fragrant Perennial with Exotic Seed-heads

Background and Family: Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis, commonly known as Yunnan Licorice, Chinese Licorice, or Japanese Licorice, belongs to the Fabaceae family of plants. It is an upright, deciduous, herbaceous perennial that is native to China, specifically the province of Yunnan. This plant is closely related to other licorice species and shares some of their characteristic traits.

Discovery and Origin: The specific details about the first published or discovery information regarding Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis are not readily available. However, it is native to the meadows, forest peripheries, and roadsides of China’s Yunnan 云南 province. This enduring and easy-care perennial has long been cherished for its ornamental and medicinal qualities.

Characteristics and Description:

Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis possesses distinct characteristics that make it a desirable addition to any garden. Let’s explore its notable features:

Flowers: The lavender flowers of Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis bloom in the summer, adding a touch of beauty to the landscape. These small pea-like flowers are arranged in loose racemes. While they may appear somewhat demure, their presence transforms into a wondrous spectacle in autumn when spiky green seed-heads emerge. These seed-heads undergo a captivating color transformation from green to purple and finally to brown, lasting through the winter months and providing interest to the garden.

Leaves: The foliage of Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis is bright green and consists of long stems with small leaflets. The leaves are sparsely arranged and have a delicate lance-shaped form. They contribute to the overall attractiveness of the plant and create a lush backdrop for the colorful flowers and seed-heads.

Fragrance or Aroma: While specific information about the fragrance or aroma of Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis is not widely available, some licorice species are known to have a sweet and distinctive scent. It is possible that Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis shares this aromatic quality, adding a delightful fragrance to the garden.

Flowering Season: Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis blooms from June to August, gracing the garden with its lavender flowers during the summer months. The presence of its flowers and the subsequent transformation of seed-heads provide visual interest and create a unique landscape element throughout the year.

Cultivation of Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis:

To successfully cultivate Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis, consider the following cultivation guidelines:

Sunlight: Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis thrives in full sun to partial shade. Choose a planting location that receives adequate sunlight for healthy growth. In regions with intense summer heat, providing partial shade during the hottest parts of the day can help protect the plant.

Watering: Regular watering is essential, especially during the first year after planting. Water Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis deeply to ensure the water reaches the roots. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. While it prefers moist soil, avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot.

Soil: Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis prefers moist, fertile, and well-drained soil. Loamy soil with good organic content is ideal. Ensure the soil is rich in nutrients and has good drainage to promote healthy root development.

Pests and Diseases: Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis is generally pest-free and disease-free. However, it’s always a good practice to monitor the plant for any signs of pests or diseases. If necessary, treat any issues promptly using appropriate organic or chemical controls.


Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis can be propagated from seed or through division. While seed propagation is possible, it requires patience, as germination can take up to six weeks. For easier propagation, division is often preferred. In the spring or fall, dig up an established plant and divide it into two or three sections, ensuring each section has a healthy root system and a few leaves. Replant the divisions in a new location that receives full sun or partial shade, providing them with the necessary care and water until they establish themselves.

Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis, with its aromatic potential, captivating flowers, and exotic seed-heads, offers a unique and enchanting addition to gardens. Whether for ornamental purposes or its medicinal qualities, this resilient perennial is a delightful choice that brings beauty and interest to outdoor spaces.

Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis
Chinese Licorice or Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis
Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis
Seed-head of Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis
Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis
Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis

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