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Acorus calamus


plant overview
sweet and semi-aquatic calamus

Calamus, more commonly known as Sweet Flag, is a semi-aquatic plant found alongside ponds and streams. Other common names in use for this plant, such as Sweet Rush and Cinnamon Sedge, refer to the sweet aroma of the dried root and its use in flavoring beverages. Another nickname, German ginger, refers to the fact that the powdered root is an ingredient in some European wines and aperitifs. It is also used as a substitute for ground cinnamon, nutmeg and, of course, ginger.

Clicking "learn more" next to each variety will take you to individual product pages for details.
A Bit of Botany
a little bit of botany about calamus

Calamus is a tall perennial wetland monocot of the Acoraceae family. In spite of several of the common names it is neither a rush or sedge. It produces tiny green flowers, but does not bear fruit. The leaves are stem-less, shaped like spears and arranged in dual rows. The root system consists of shallow branching rhizomes that are stout and knobby; they have a brown exterior and white interior. A tuft of basal leaves occur at intervals along these rhizomes, while coarse fibrous roots develop below. The rhizome yields an oil that is highly fragrant and imparts a bitter flavor.

Calamus is 1-4' tall, consisting of tufts of basal leaves that emerge directly from a spreading rootstock. These basal leaves are erect and sword-shaped, resembling the basal leaves of Iris, but more green. They are flattened on one side more than the other, smooth along the margins, and have parallel veins. There is often an off-center ridge/indentation along the length of each leaf. Sometimes the bases of the leaves or their margins are slightly red.

Some leaves develop a cylindrical spadix that is about 2–4" in length and semi-erect. This spadix is covered with tiny greenish yellow flowers in a diamond-shaped pattern. Each flower has 6 tepals and 6 stamens.

The spathe is regarded as absent by some authorities, while others consider the spathe to be a bract-like extension of the basal leaf.

The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about a month. Both the crushed foliage and rootstocks have a pleasant aromatic fragrance. Because Sweet Flag is a sterile polyploid species, it doesn't produce any fruit with fertile seeds. This plant spreads vegetatively by its rhizomes and often forms colonies.

common names & nomenclature
The Latin word acorus is derived from the Greek áchórou, which is derived from kóri which means pupil (of an eye). The Latin word calamus means "cane". The name sweet flag refers to its sweet scent and its similarity to Iris species, which have been commonly known as flags in English since the late fourteenth century.

Also known as:
calamus, sweet flag, cinnamon sedge, sweet sedge, sweet root, sweet cane, sweet rush, myrtle grass, myrtle flag, gladdon, german ginger, beewort, bitter pepper root, calamus root, flag root, myrtle root, myrtle sedge, pine root, rat root, sea sedge, sweet cinnamon, sweet grass, sweet myrtle

Where in the World
habitat and range for calamus

Calamus is native to India and North America and naturalized in Europe, Australia, Siberia, China, Japan and Indonesia.

Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting calamus

Calamus grows in part to full sun in sedge meadows that are prone to flooding, edges of small lakes and ponds, marshes, swamps, seeps and springs, and wetland restorations.

Calamus prefers to grow in wet mucky ground or shallow water along shores. This species is semi-aquatic.

Calamus is best propagated by division. Divide the roots anytime except during active flowering for best results.

Harvest calamus root in late autumn or early spring. Choose only roots that are under 3 years old as older roots tend to become tough and hollow.

Dry the roots completely and cut into small pieces or grind into powder. Store in airtight containers in a cool, dry place.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
you should always consult with your doctor
before making any changes to your diet!!
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