Lindsay Bourque wrote today’s entry:
Astragalus glycyphyllos, commonly known as liquorice milkvetch, is a perennial herb widespread throughout Europe and temperate Asia. European farmer’s almanacs suggested sowing Astragalus glycyphyllos because not only does it fix nitrogen in the soil, but it is also good for early spring and fall grazing when it is often the only green plant in the pasture. The Latin glycophyllos means sweet leaves, which could explain why it is a favorite grazing species (I’ve never tasted it but apparently it doesn’t taste like liquorice at all—please post if anyone has any first hand experience). There are several North American species of Astragalus commonly known as locoweed that produce a phytotoxin, swainsonine, which can be harmful to cattle in large quantities. Recognizing the milkvetch from their pastures, European settlers in North America were quick to use the seed of the North American species—the first case of cattle poisoning from locoweed was recorded in 1844.
NOTE: Although liquorice vetch is sometimes used in tea, it is Astragalus membranaceus that is used as an immune enhancer and is on the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine.