Licorice Lovelies
True licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra, isn't grown in Austin, Texas gardens, but try these substitutes...

Licorice Verbena         Lippia carterae             Family Verbenaceae
Licorice verbena is a shrubby tender perennial that may grow up to 4 feet tall.  It has large, lime green, pointed leaves covered with stiff, scratchy hairs.  It has a sweet licorice scent and taste.  Licorice verbena is best grown in a pot so it can be brought inside during winter.  Prune frequently to encourage dense growth.  It can grow in a shady location, but will have "leggy" growth unless given morning sun.

False Licorice          Helichrysum petiolatum            Family Asteraceae
False licorice is a charming ornamental originally from South Africa.  It has small, round, gray, woolly leaves that invite touching.  It is a creeping plant that is most attractive when placed in hanging baskets, rock wall pockets or at the base of larger potted plants.  Hardy to zones 8-9, it is best to bring it in during Austin, Texas winters or place it in a very protected location.  False licorice requires well draining soil and a sunny site.  Central Texas humidity is its worst enemy, be sure there is good air circulation around the plant.
Anise Basil                  Ocimum basilicum 'Anise'            Family Lamiaceae
This is a somewhat lanky growing basil with a sweet licorice flavor.  It grows to 30 inches and has pinkish whorls of flowers.  It is also called 'Licorice'.  The licorice flavor is combined with a "clove" taste.  It is easily grown from seed and may even reseed itself in the garden.  Give it full sun and moist but well drained soil.  Pick frequently to encourage dense foliage.
Fennel                      Foeniculum vulgare                 Family Apiaceae       TAMPhoto(142k)
Fennel is a licorice flavored herb with feathery plumes of foliage and stunning umbels of yellow flowers.  Fennel seeds are best sown directly into the ground in early fall in Austin, Tx.  A hard freeze may nip the fennel, but it usually reappears as temperatures warm.  When summer heat comes the plant quickly bolts.  Fennel does well in full sun, but afternoon shade is tolerated.   The soil should be rich and moist, but well-drained.  Fennel is a food source for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.  In the language of flowers, fennel is considered an emblem of strength.
Mexican Mint Marigold   Tagetes lucida         Family Asteraceae
South Texans have trouble keeping tarragon through the long, hot summer, but instead they are blessed with "Texas Tarragon".  This anise flavored perennial is a wonderful addition to the landscape.  Growing to 30 inches, the shapely clump becomes ablaze in fall with golden marigold-like blossoms.  As if beauty weren't enough, the plant's delightful anise flavor that can be used in place of tarragon (but it is not an identical substitute, the taste of mexican mint marigold is milder and more anise-like).  It also makes an excellent addition to teas and punches, especially if combined with lemon flavored herbs.  Mexican Mint Marigold is easy to grow.  It does best in full sun and wants well draining soil.  It is fairly drought tolerant.  It may be propagated by seeds, root divisions, or cuttings.  The plant will die back during cold weather, but springs to life with its stems of elongated leaves when spring temperatures arrive.  In Northern climates it is grown as an annual.
Anise Hyssop       Agastache foeniculum      Family Lamiaceae          UWPhoto(186k)
Anise hyssop is a delightful licorice scented perennial native to the great plains of North America.    Growing to three feet in height, anise hyssop has triangular, dark gray green leaves and spikes of violet flowers in the summer.  Bumblebees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers.  It does best in full sun and well-drained soil.  It is easily sown from seed and once established in your garden, seedlings may begin popping up in unexpected places.  The tea made from the leaves of anise hyssop is sweet and soothing.
 
 
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