Polypodium glycyrrhiza (Licorice Fern)
Photo at right by J. Brew
A highly unusual, eye-catching fern to 2’ tall, Licorice Fern grows directly out of moss on rocks and tree limbs. It is found mostly on Big Leaf Maples and Garry Oaks.
Having an opposite dormant season, the Licorice Fern will dry up in summer drought, only to green up immediately with the first fall rains and stay green all winter.
The rootstocks have a licorice flavor and reportedly have been chewed for the flavor as well as medicinal purposes. It was also mixed with foul-tasting medicinal plants to improve their flavor.
Found between Alaska and Arizona and east into Idaho, Licorice Fern is hardy between USDA zones 5-8. Sold in winter by square foot sections, each with several plants.