Native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia, liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra, locally also "bear's muck") is a perennial of the legume family, subfamily Butterworts. Only in late summer do bluish-purple and white butterfly flowers appear in short, erect spikes. The roots harvested in autumn are used to make liquorice candy. Since ancient times, the healing effect for certain diseases has been known (expectorant and antispasmodic). The Greeks and the Romans used the juice (succus liquiritiae) to treat stomach ulcers and asthma. A root was also found in the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tut-Ench-Amun. The root bark contains glycyrrhizin (a glycoside), which gives liquorice its characteristically sweet, spicy and warming taste and has a sweetening power 50 times stronger than cane sugar. Certain red wines or grape varieties have this easily recognisable flavour, such as Barolo (from Nebbiolo) and wines from the South African variety Pinotage. See also under Flavourings.
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