A variable species, it has been subdivided into 5 subspecies[
There has been considerable differences of opinion amongst botanists regarding the correct name for this species. We are following the treatment in the African Plant Database[
] and GRIN, though some other authorities recognize Abrus fruticulosus as the correct name[
Abrus cantoniensis Hance
Abrus fruticulosus Wight & Arn.
Abrus gorsei Berhaut
Abrus mollis Hance
Abrus pulchellus Wall. ex Thwaites
Abrus repens Tisser.
Abrus stictospermus Berhaut
Abrus tenuiflorus Spruce ex Benth.
Common Name: Liquorice Root
Inflorescence of the subspecies suffruticosus
Photograph by: Scamperdale
Liquorice root is a scrambling shrub producing numerous stems up to 6 metres long that either scramble over the ground or twine around other plants for support.
The root is sometimes gathered from the wild and used like liquorice[
Tropical Africa - Senegal to Ethiopia, south to Angola and Mozambique; E. Asia - Indian subcontinent, China, Malaysia, Indo-China, Philippines.
Valley forests at elevations of 400 - 3,000 metres in southern China[
]. Secondary vegetation and galleried forest, preferring damp locations[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
The root is used as a substitute for liquorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.)[
]. This report does not specify if it is used as a food or medicine[
The leaves are diuretic, febrifuge, laxative[
]. They are used in the treatment of kidney problems, pulmonary troubles etc[
The root is used to treat stomach problems[
If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.