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Licorice Fern
Polypodium glycyrrhiza
About Licorice Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza) Nurseries Show All Photos Polypodium glycyrrhiza (many-footed fern, sweet root), commonly known as licorice fern, is an evergreen fern native to western North America. They thrive in a humid climate, prevailing in areas with cool and moist summers and warm and wet winters. Found at elevations <2000 feet It grows primarily in a narrow strip in southern Alaska, southwestern Yukon Territory, western British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California, though two highly disjunct populations are known from Idaho and Arizona. It can often be found growing on the trunks and branches of deciduous trees, particularly bigleaf maple. The fern can also be found on rocks, logs, and wet, mossy humus. Licorice fern acquires its name from its licorice-flavored rhizome, which was chewed for flavor by numerous Native American groups, including the Swxw7mesh, Shishalh, Comox, Nuxalk, Haida, and Kwakwaka'wakw. The rhizomes were also usually used medicinally as a treatment for the cold and sore throats. Reproduction and life cycle: Uses its spores on the underside of its leaves, releasing them in cool weather and high humidity.
Plant Description
Plant Type


Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Moist slopes, rocks, logs

Shade, Part Shade

Elevation ?
-75' - 5521'

Annual Precip. ?
25.7" - 111.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.20" - 3.29"

Coldest Month ?
37.8° F - 49.0° F

Hottest Month ?
55.6° F - 73.3° F

Humidity ?
0.01 vpd - 23.44 vpd

Sunset Zones ?
4*, 5*, 6*, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Common uses

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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