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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native perennial plant 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 spp. (Irises), 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 base 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. The root system consists of shallow branching rhizomes that are stout and knobby; they have a brown exterior and white interior. Tufts of basal leaves occur at intervals along these rhizomes, while coarse fibrous roots develop below. This plant spreads vegetatively by its rhizomes and often forms colonies. Cultivation
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Acorus calamus L., 1753

Materials

Type status: Other material. Occurrence: recordedBy: Y. Ito ; Location: country: Myanmar ; verbatimLatitude: 16° 53' 19" N; verbatimLongitude: 95° 52' 29" E; Record Level: collectionID: MBK025720; institutionCode: TI

Type status: Other material. Occurrence: recordedBy: Y. Ito ; Location: country: Myanmar ; verbatimLatitude: 16° 53' 19.18"; verbatimLongitude: 95° 52' 28.59"; Record Level: collectionID: MBK032409; institutionCode: TI

Type status: Other material. Occurrence: recordedBy: Y. Ito ; Location: country: Myanmar ; verbatimLatitude: 16° 53' 19.18"; verbatimLongitude: 95° 52' 28.59"; Record Level: collectionID: TI032666; institutionCode: TI

Type status: Other material. Occurrence: recordedBy: Y. Ito ; Location: country: Thailand ; locality: Chiang Mai Province; Juuigalion - canal, S of Chiang Mai ; verbatimLatitude: 20° 11' N; verbatimLongitude: 99° 46' E; Event: eventDate: Mar. 2, 1958 ; Record Level: collectionID: T. Sorensen et al. 1812; institutionCode: GH

Distribution

Worldwide.

  • Ito, Yu, Barfod, Anders S. (2014): An updated checklist of aquatic plants of Myanmar and Thailand. Biodiversity Data Journal 2, 1019: 1019-1019, URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.2.e1019
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Plazi

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Miscellaneous Details

Rhizome used in traditional medicine and also to protect clothing from insect attack. Once believed to be abundant but now difficult to find growing wild.
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Brief

Habit: Aromatic marsh herb
  • Mathew, K. M. ""The flora of Palani Hills."" Rapinat Herbarium, Tiruchirapalli, Part I-III.
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Brief

Flowering class: Monocot Habit: Herb Distribution notes: Exotic
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Description

Sweet flag is a perennial, rhizomatous, iris-like herb. The erect, sharp-pointed, sword-shaped leaves fan-out from a pinkish base and grow to 5 feet in length. The midvein is usually off-center. Cut or bruised leaves produce a sweet, tangerine-like scent. The flower stem, or scape, arises from the base of the outer leaves. Although resembling a leaf, the scape is triangular in cross section. A long, erect bract, or spathe, extends beyond the scape. A single, cylindrical 2 to 4-inch spike, or spadex, angles upward at this union. The slightly curved spadix is crowded with small yellowish-green to brown flowers that appear from May to July. Sweet flag has thick, creeping rhizomes with brownish exteriors and white, fleshy interiors.

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Alternative names

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Sweet Flag occurs occasionally throughout Illinois, although it is less common or absent in the NW and southern areas of the state (see Distribution Map). Habitats include sedge meadows that are prone to flooding, edges of small lakes and ponds, marshes, swamps, seeps and springs, and wetland restorations. Sweet Flag is probably circumpolar in its distribution, occurring as a native species in both North America and Eurasia. However, some authorities regard it as an introduced species that was originally native to India, central Asia, and Eastern Europe. In Western Europe, it can be considered an introduced plant. Because Sweet Flag is usually found in native wetlands, rather than disturbed habitats where weedy plants occur (e.g., roadside ditches), it seems more likely to be a native species. Amerindians may have assisted its distribution in many areas of North America.
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Global Range: Please see Kartesz (1999) for the updated global range information for Acorus calamus and A. americanus. In North America, A. calamus is mostly concentrated in plains and eastern locations. This species is also reported from Eurasia in the former Soviet Union (Hulten, 1968; Gleason and Cronquist 1963). A. calamus is reported to occur throughout most of the eastern U.S. except Florida, and also in Washington, Oregon, California, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas (Kartesz 1999). It is considered an exotic in Ontario (Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre), Nebraska (Nebraska Natural Heritage Program), Missouri (Missouri Department of Conservation), and Kansas (Kansas Natural Features Inventory). It is historical in Delaware (Delaware Natural Heritage Program) and in Colorado. The Missouri populations were reportedly introduced by settlers for medicinal use (Tim Smith pers. comm.). It is known from seven counties in South Dakota (South Dakota Natural Heritage Database). It is reported from southern lower Michigan (Michigan Natural Features Inventory). It is reported from all counties in Maine (Maine Natural Areas Program).

Packer and Ringius (1984) contains information regarding the taxonomic status and distribution of Acorus in Canada. Only Acorus americanus (A. calamus var. americanus) occurs in Manitoba (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre).

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Range Description

Widespread in Asia (including throughout southern China, Europe, North America, and Russia (Far East, Siberia) (eFloras 2011).
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"
Global Distribution

North temperate hemisphere and Tropical Asia

Indian distribution

State - Kerala, District/s: Kottayam, Alappuzha, Idukki, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikkode, Wayanad, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Palakkad, Malappuram

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Commonly seen near water ways & swamps of Palnis. Probably introduced grass. Plains from the coast to 1200m. North temperate hemisphere and Tropical Asia
  • Mathew, K. M. ""The flora of Palani Hills."" Rapinat Herbarium, Tiruchirapalli, Part I-III.
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introduced; N.B., N.S., Ont., Que.; Ala., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., D.C., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.; Europe; Asia; Africa; Indian Ocean Islands; Pacific Islands.
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Distribution: N. and C. America, Europe, Asia.
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W-E Nepal: Bhutan, China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka; N. Asia, Europe, C. & N. America.
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Distribution and adaptation

Sweet flag is irregularly circumboreal. In North America it is found from Nova Scotia and Quebec to Minnesota, Alberta and Eastern Washington, south to Florida, Texas and Colorado on wet soils and shallow water in ditches, marshes, river edges and ponds. It prefers full sun and a pH range from 5 to 7.

For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Website.

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Physical Description

Morphology

"
Flower

In spadix, cylindrical, white. Flowering in July.

Fruit

A berry, oblong. Seeds few, oblong. Fruiting in July, very rare.

Leaf Apices

Acuminate

Leaf arrangement

Clustered

Leaf Bases

Decurrent

Leaf Margins

Entire

Leaf Shapes

Linear

Leaf Types

Simple

Habit

An aromatic marsh herb.

"
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Description

Perennial herb up to 80 cm tall. Rootstock stout, 1-1.5 cm broad, creeping, with long fibrous roots from the lower surface. Stem erect, glabrous, grooved at one side, and ribbed at the opposite. Leaves ensiform or linear, 55-100 x 8-1.5 cm. Spathe leaf-like, up to 46 cm long, not enclosing the spadix. Spadix 5-6.5 cm long, cylindrical, obtuse, 1-1.4 cm broad. Tepals c. 2 mm long, oblong-obovate, slightly curved, margin membranous, surface with embedded raphides. Filaments 2 mm long, flat, anthers less than 1 mm long, ± orbicular. Ovary 3 mm long, obconical; seeds obconical, 2 mm long,
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Elevation Range

100-2300 m
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Description

Leaves basally white with pink or red, otherwise bright green; single midvein (secondary midrib) prominently raised above leaf surface, usually somewhat off-center, other veins barely or not raised; cross section rhomboid. Vegetative leaves to 1.75 m; sheathing base (proximal part of leaf) 22.1--66.5(--73.3) cm; distal part of leaf 31.9--95.8(--117.6) ´ 0.5--2 cm, 1.4--1.8 times longer than proximal part of leaf, margins sometimes undulate or crisped. Sympodial leaf (29.9--)34.7--159.1(--183.9) cm, usually shorter than to nearly equal to vegetative leaves; sheathing base 16.1--76.4(--100.1) cm; distal part of leaf 13.5--86.2(--101.2) ´ 0.4--1.9 cm. Spadix (3.8--)4.9--8.9 cm ´ 5.3--10.8 mm at anthesis, post-anthesis spadix 5.5--8.7 cm ´ 6--12.6 mm. Flowers 3--4 mm; pollen grains not staining in aniline blue. Fruits not produced in North America. 2n = 36.
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Diagnostic Description

From CNHP Wetland Guide 2012: Main Characteristics:
·Resembles a cattail but the leaves are sword-like as in Iris
·Crushed foliage and rhizomes have a sweet fragrance

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Diagnostic

"A strongly aromatic semi-aquatic perennial herb; rhizomes creeping, jointed, somewhat vertically compressed, 1.3-2.5 cm thick, pale to dark brown and spongy inside. Leaves narrow, up to 80 cm long, linear to narrowly ensiform, glossy bright green, apex acute, base amplexicaul; petioles sheathing for 20-50 cm. Flowers pale green, fragrant, arranged compactly on a sessile, cylindrical, stumpy spadix 5-7 cm long. Fruits (berries) green, angular, 3-celled, fleshy, containing 1-3 oblong seeds."
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Sweet Flag occurs occasionally throughout Illinois, although it is less common or absent in the NW and southern areas of the state (see Distribution Map). Habitats include sedge meadows that are prone to flooding, edges of small lakes and ponds, marshes, swamps, seeps and springs, and wetland restorations. Sweet Flag is probably circumpolar in its distribution, occurring as a native species in both North America and Eurasia. However, some authorities regard it as an introduced species that was originally native to India, central Asia, and Eastern Europe. In Western Europe, it can be considered an introduced plant. Because Sweet Flag is usually found in native wetlands, rather than disturbed habitats where weedy plants occur (e.g., roadside ditches), it seems more likely to be a native species. Amerindians may have assisted its distribution in many areas of North America.
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Comments: Shallow waters and wetlands, including ponds, marshes, swamps, and quiet riverbanks or floodplains (Gleason and Cronquist 1963, Fernald and Kinsey 1943). A. americanus is reported to occur in more stable habitats, whereas A. calamus is reported from more disturbed habitats, such as wet pastures and artificial ditches (Swink and Wilhelm 1994).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species grows on the margins of standing or slow-flowing water, typically occur in river backwaters, canal margins and the margins of ponds and lakes, swamps, pond sides, standing water, and also cultivated.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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General Habitat

Probably introduced and commonly seen by water courses and marshes.Plains from the coast to 1200m. North temperate hemisphere and Tropical Asia.
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General Habitat

Semi-aquatic and marshy localities
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Wet open areas, marshes, swales, and along edges of quiet water; 0--900m.
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Depth range based on 4 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 1 - 1
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Dispersal

Establishment

Sweet flag can be propagated vegetatively by plant or rhizome division, and by seed. Vegetative propagation is best completed in the fall or spring using firm, healthy rhizomes cut into 2- to 4-inch sections. Plant sections in rich soil 4 - 6 inches deep and 1 foot apart. Separating individual sprigs from clumped plants is an alternative to using rhizomes. These should also be transplanted at 1-foot spacings.

Seed should be planted during the fall or winter in a greenhouse. Fill a 2-inch deep tray with an organic

soil mix, scatter seed sparsely on the surface and press firmly into the soil. Do not bury further than 1/8 inch deep. Keep soil moist to saturated. Seed does not require stratification and germinates in less than 2 weeks. When plants reach 3 to 4 inches transplant into individual 4-inch pots. Pots can be placed in shallow water or irrigated frequently to maintain very moist to saturated conditions. Transplant outdoors 1 foot apart in the spring. With adequate moisture seed can also be planted outdoors spring through early summer, or in a cold frame late summer through fall.

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Associations

Faunal Associations

Muskrats are fond of the rootstocks and readily consume them. Otherwise, little information is available about floral-faunal relationships.
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Foodplant / saprobe
immersed pycnidium of Ascochyta coelomycetous anamorph of Ascochyta acori is saprobic on leaf (lower part) of Acorus calamus
Remarks: season: 10-12

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / spot causer
sparsely scattered, minute, black pycnidium of Ascochyta coelomycetous anamorph of Ascochyta calami causes spots on live leaf of Acorus calamus
Remarks: season: 5-8

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Endoperplexa enodulosa is saprobic on decayed Acorus calamus

Foodplant / saprobe
Phlyctochytrium planicorne is saprobic on dead stem of Acorus calamus

Foodplant / spot causer
amphigenous pycnidium of Phyllosticta coelomycetous anamorph of Phyllosticta acorella causes spots on leaf of Acorus calamus
Remarks: season: 8

Foodplant / spot causer
amphigenous Ramularia hyphomycetous anamorph of Ramularia aromatica causes spots on live leaf of Acorus calamus
Other: sole host/prey

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: At least a few hundred North American occurrences for this species known, at least some of which may be native as well as a sizable Eurasian range (cf. Hulten, 1968). "Uncommon" in California (Hickman 1993). There is one population reported from Alaska (Hulten 1968). It is reported to be "not very common" in Nebraska (Nebraska Natural Heritage Program). It is reported to be "common" in Maine (Maine Natural Areas Program). The plant is not rare in New Hampshire (New Hampshire Natural Heritage Inventory). Fourteen occurrences are reported from seven counties in South Dakota (South Dakota Natural Heritage Database). Roughly one hundred occurrences of Acorus are reported from Ontario, including occurrences of both A. calamus and A. americanus (Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre). Five populations are reported from the Okeefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia, but the taxonomic status of these occurrences is uncertain. Both taxa are genuinely rare in Georgia (Georgia Natural Heritage Program). It is infrequent in marshes, on pond margins, along streams, and in ditches throughout the state of Kentucky (Kentucky Natural Heritage Program). It is reported as common in wetlands across the state of New York (New York Natural Heritage Program). Acorus is common in Indiana in wet fields, ditches, and marshes, but the Indiana NHP has not tried to distinguish the two species of Acorus, and their relative abundance in the state is unknown (Indiana Natural Heritage Data Center). 40 to 50 occurrences are reported from Kansas (Kansas Natural Features Inventory). One occurrence is documented by the Mississippi Natural Heritage Program for the state (Mississippi Natural Heritage Program). A. calamus is rare in Texas with a few wetland occurrences known from the northeastern corner of the state (Texas Natural Heritage Program). It is known historically from three populations in Colorado, all of which appear to have been extirpated. Worldwide, there are probably many thousands of populations.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering and fruiting: April-July
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Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering early spring--early summer.
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Flower/Fruit

Fl. Per.: June July.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Acorus calamus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Acorus calamus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 21
Specimens with Barcodes: 42
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NU - Unrankable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NU - Unrankable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: It is likely that this species is in rangewide decline due to the disappearance and degradation of its wetland habitats. The recent splitting of Acorus at the species level means that it is uncertain for many occurrences whether they are A. calamus or A. americanus. When this is sorted out it may become evident that one species is rarer or more common than originally thought.

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2011

Assessor/s
Gupta, A.K.

Reviewer/s
Allen, D. & Lansdown, R.V.

Contributor/s

Justification
The species is widespread and is tolerant to water pollution and is suggested to be used to clarify polluted water. It is assessed as Least Concern.
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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Population

Population
The wild populations of the Pearl River region in China are small.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Comments: An individual with the U.S. herbal medicinal industry states that trade in the plant is modest, on the order of 2000-3000 pounds per year, and that it is the root that is used (McGuffin pers. comm.).

In northeastern South Dakota, the Dakota tribe collects and utilizes an unknown quantity of this plant (David Ode pers. comm.). It is reportedly collected in Canada and the northeastern U.S. for sale on the herb market (Robyn Klein pers. comm.).

Acorus calamus is listed by the United Plant Savers At Risk Forum on their "To Watch" list. This list consists of "herbs which are broadly used in commerce and which, due to over-harvest, loss of habitat, or by the nature of their innate rareness or sensitivity are either at risk or have significantly declined in numbers within their current range." (United Plant Savers 2000)

With the general disappearance and degradation of wetlands, the habitat of this species continues to shrink. Because it is associated with relatively undisturbed habitats when compared with Acorus calamus, A. americanus is probably more threatened in some parts of its range as more undisturbed wetlands become disturbed. Replacement of A. americanus by A. calamus is possible as more wetland habitats become disturbed where the two species overlap. Channelization of springruns has been implicated as a threat to occurrences of this species in Georgia (Tom Patrick pers. comm.). Urban sprawl is causing widespread degradation of potential habitat for this species in southern Lower Michigan (Mike Penskar pers. comm.). Lack of monitoring resources available to properly document the population trends for this species are cited as a threat in Mississippi (Mississippi Natural Heritage Program).

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Major Threats
No information is available on threats to the species or its habitats.
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Management

Biological Research Needs: The following research projects are needed in order to accurately assess the conservation status of this species: a more complete determination of genetic, physiological, habitat, and range differences between Acorus calamus and A. americanus; a determination the approximate range of this species in North America at the time of initial European contact; and a determination of the degree to which the two taxa are able to hybridize.

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
No conservation measures have been undertaken specifically for this species and none are needed.
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These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Keep soil very moist to saturated; sweet flag does not tolerate droughty conditions. It grows well under seasonal, shallow inundation, however, avoid flooding of newly established plants or seeded areas.

Starter fertilizers may be used indoors to improve early growth but are unnecessary once transplanted outdoors into a rich soil.

The spadix will turn brown as the seed ripens in late summer or early fall. Seed can be planted immediately or stored in low humidity refrigeration.

Rhizomes should be harvested for medicinal use in early spring before new growth, or late autumn. Collect when large and firm, generally after 2 – 3 years of growth, before becoming hollow.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: FOOD, MEDICINE/DRUG, LANDSCAPING, OTHER USES/PRODUCTS

Production Methods: Wild-harvested

Comments: There are no known differences between the uses for Acorus calamus and A. americanus at this time. This plant has a long history of use by Native Americans, who have used it for a variety of cures. It is used widely by drum singers to help keep the throat moist (Robyn Klein pers. comm.). Small pieces of the plant were sucked while singing during powwows, and it was used as a cough remedy. Native Americans also spread the leaves in their lodgings to give a pleasing scent. Early settlers used the plant as a candy or a kind of throat lozenge (Mike Penskar pers. comm.). It is used by herbalists as a treatment for ailments of the throat and lungs, but only in small amounts as part of an herbal formula (Robyn Klein pers. comm.). It is recommended as a component of formulas for quitting tobacco and marijuana smoking (Tierra 1990). It was probably introduced in many parts of its range by settlers for medicinal use. See Tierra (1990) for a very detailed summary of medicinal applications for this plant.

Euell Gibbons has documented many uses for this plant in his popular books on eating and using plants.

Prices for this species were found as follows:

Unknown location: $4.50/lb (Ed Fletcher pers. comm.)

U.S., internet: $3.25/packet of seeds

U.S., internet: $1.16/oz

U.S., mail order: $8.50/lb of wild-harvested material, $9.50/lb of powdered root

U.S., mail order: $1.08/oz dried root, $8.65/lb (1-4 lbs), $8.20/lb (5-24 lbs), $7.20/lb (25 lbs) (plant material from Poland)

U.S., mail order: $13.49/one-third oz. root essential oil (wholesale), $22.49 (retail)

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Uses

The roots are made into a paste with milk and given to children to improve digestion.
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Uses

Medicinal
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Uses

Uses: Rhizome used as medicine
  • Mathew, K. M. ""The flora of Palani Hills."" Rapinat Herbarium, Tiruchirapalli, Part I-III.
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Uses

Cultural Primarily, sweet flag is or was known by the American Indian tribes and early settlers for its medicinal value. Although the preparation of this species and the ailments it treats vary somewhat among the tribes, rhizomes are the most commonly used part.

Wildlife Sweet flag provides habitat for waterfowl. Muskrats eat the rhizomes and wood ducks consume the seed.

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Wikipedia

Acorus calamus

Sweet flag redirects here. For other uses see sweet flag (disambiguation)

Acorus calamus (also called Sweet Flag or Calamus, among many common names[2]) is a tall perennial wetland monocot of the Acoraceae family, in the genus Acorus. In spite of common names that include the words "rush" and "sedge," it is neither a rush nor sedge.[3] The scented leaves and more strongly scented rhizomes have traditionally been used medicinally and to make fragrances, and the dried and powdered rhizome has been used as a substitute for ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.[3][4]

Names[edit]

In addition to "sweet flag" and "calamus" other common names include beewort, bitter pepper root, calamus root, flag root, gladdon, myrtle flag, myrtle grass, myrtle root, myrtle sedge, pine root, rat root, sea sedge, sweet cane, sweet cinnamon, sweet grass, sweet myrtle, sweet root, sweet rush, and sweet sedge.[2] Common names in Asia include: "vacha"; "bacch" (Unani); "bajai," "gora-bach," "vasa bach" (Hindi); "vekhand" (Marathi); "vashambu" (Tamil); "vadaja," "vasa" (Telugu); "baje" (Kannada); "vayambu" (Malayalam); Haimavati, "bhutanashini," "jatila" (Sanskrit).[3]

Etymology[edit]

The Latin word acorus is derived from the Greek άχόρου (áchórou) of Dioscorides (note different versions of the text have different spellings). The word άχόρου itself is thought to have been derived from the word κόρη (kóri), which means pupil (of an eye), due to the juice from the root of the plant being used as a remedy in diseases of the eye ('darkening of the pupil').[5][6][7]

The Latin word calamus (meaning "cane") is derived from Greek ΚΆΛΑΜΟΣ (kálamos, meaning "reed"), which is cognate to Latin culmus (meaning "stalk") and Old English healm (meaning "straw"), and derived from Proto-Indo European *kole-mo- (thought to mean "grass" or "reed"). The Arabic word قَلَم (qálam, meaning "pen") and Sanskrit कलम (kaláma, meaning "reed used as a pen", and a sort of rice) are thought to have been borrowed from Greek.[8][9][10][11]

The name sweet flag refers to its sweet scent and its similarity to Iris species, which are commonly known as flags in English since the late fourteenth century.[12][13]

Botanical information[edit]

There are three cytotypic forms distinguished by chromosome number: a diploid form (2n=24), an infertile triploid form (2n=36), and a tetraploid form (see below). The triploid form is the most common and is thought to have arisen relatively recently in the Himalayan region through hybridisation of the diploid with the tetraploid.[14]

Probably indigenous to most of Asia, the triploid form Acorus calamus var. calamus (also known as var. vulgaris or var. verus) has now been introduced across Europe, Australia, New Guinea, South Africa, Réunion and North America.[3][4][14][15][16][17][18][19] The tetraploid form Acorus calamus var. angustatus is native throughout Asia, from India to Japan and the Philippines and from Indonesia to Siberia.[15] The diploid form Acorus americanus or Acorus calamus var. americanus is found in northern subarctic North America and scattered disjunct areas throughout the Mississippi Valley, and furthermore diploids are also found in Mongolia, central Siberia (Buryatia), Gilgit–Baltistan in Pakistan (claimed by India) and northern Himachal Pradesh in India. It is extinct in some parts of the United States and Canada. It may not have been native to some of these areas, Pre-Columbian populations are thought to have dispersed it across parts of the United States.[15][20][21][22]

Currently the taxonomic position of these forms is contested. The comprehensive taxonomic analysis in the Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families from 2002 considers all three forms to be distinct varieties of a single species.[15][23] Sue A. Thompson in her 1995 Phd dissertation and in her 2000 entry in the Flora of North America considers the diploid form to a distinct species. Note Thompson only analyses North American forms of the diploid variety in her treatment, and does not analyse the morphology of Asian forms of the diploid variety. Also note that in older USA literature the name Acorus americanus may be used indiscriminately for all forms of Acorus calamus occurring in North America, irrespective of cytological diversity (i.e. both the diploid and triploid forms).[20] The recent treatment in the Flora of China from 2010, which is followed in the Tropicos database system, considers all varieties to be synonyms of a single taxonomically undifferentiated species, pointing to morphological overlap in the characteristics singled out by Thompson.[14][24]

According to Thompson the primary morphological distinction between the triploid and the North American forms of the diploid is made by the number of prominent leaf veins, the diploid having a single prominent midvein with on both sides of this equally raised secondary veins, the triploid having a single prominent midvein with the secondary veins barely distinct. Thompson notes a number of other details which she claims can be used to tell the different forms apart in North America, such as flower length, average maximum leaf length, relative length of the sympodial leaf with respect to the vegetative leaves, the average length of the spadix during flowering, and tendency of the leaf margin to undulate in the triploid. She notes that many of these characteristics overlap, but that in general the triploid is somewhat larger and more robust on average than most North American forms of the diploid. According to Heng Li, Guanghua Zhu and Josef Bogner in the Flora of China there is clear overlap in these characteristics and the different cytotypes are impossible to distinguish morphologically.[14][20]

Triploid plants are infertile and show an abortive ovary with a shrivelled appearance. This form will never form fruit (let alone seeds) and can only spread asexually.[20]

The tetraploid variety is usually known as Acorus calamus var. angustatus Besser. A number of synonyms are known, but a number are contested as to which variety they belong. It is morphologically diverse, with some forms having very broad and some narrow leaves. It is furthermore also cytotypically diverse, with an array of different karyotypes.[15][22][25]

A further hexaploid form exists in central and northwestern Yunnan and Kashmir. This form has not been given taxonomic status. At least 3 different karyotypes have been classified as hexaploid; 2n=66in Yunnan and 2n=54 and 2n=72 in Kashmir.[22][25]

Diploid plants in North America apparently produce no or only trace amounts of b-asarone. According to one study, triploids produce a small amount, constituting around 0.3% of the rhizome in crude content, whereas tetraploids may be found in at least two chemotypes, one with 2.0%, and one with 4.0 to 8.0%.[26]

Uses[edit]

A. Calamus has been an item of trade in many cultures for thousands of years. It has been used medicinally for a wide variety of ailments, and its aroma makes calamus essential oil valued in the perfume industry. The essence from the rhizome is used as a flavor for pipe tobacco. When eaten in crystallized form, it is called "German ginger". In Europe Acorus calamus was often added to wine, and the root is also one of the possible ingredients of absinthe. It is also used in bitters.[4] In Lithuania Ajeras (Sweet flag) is added to home baked black bread.

History[edit]

Although probably not native to Egypt, this plant was already mentioned in the Chester Beatty papyrus VI dating to approximately 1300 BC. The ancient Egyptians rarely mentioned the plant in medicinal contexts (the afore-mentioned papyrus mentioned using it in conjunction with several ingredients as a bandage used to sooth an ailment of the stomach), but it was certainly used to make perfumes.[27]

Initially Europeans confused the identity and medicinal uses of the Acorus calamus of the Romans and Greeks with their native Iris pseudacorus. Thus the Herbarius zu Teutsch, published at Mainz in 1485, describes and includes a woodcut of this iris under the name Acorus. This German book is one of three possible sources for the French Le Grant Herbier, written in 1486, 1488, 1498 or 1508, of which an English translation was published as the Grete Herball by Peter Treveris in 1526, all containing the false identification of the Herbarius zu Teutsch.[28] William Turner, writing in 1538, describes 'acorum' as "gladon or a flag, a yelowe floure delyce".[29]

The plant was introduced to Britain in the late 16th century. By at least 1596 true Acorus calamus was grown in Britain, as it is listed in The Catalogue, a list of plants John Gerard grew in his garden at Holborn. Gerard notes "It prospereth exceeding well in my garden, but as yet bearth neither flowers nor stalke". Gerard lists the Latin name as Acorus verus, but it is evident there was still doubt about its veracity: in his 1597 herbal he lists the English common name as 'bastard calamus'.[30]

Cultural uses[edit]

In Britain the plant was also cut for use as a sweet smelling floor covering for the packed earth floors of medieval dwellings and churches, and stacks of rushes have been used as the centrepiece of rushbearing ceremonies for many hundreds of years.[31] It has also been used as a thatching material for English cottages.[32]

In modern Egypt it is thought to have aphrodisiac properties.[27]

For the Penobscot people this was a very important root. One story goes that a sickness was plaguing the people. A muskrat spirit came to a man in dream, telling him that he (the muskrat) was a root and where to find him. The man awoke, found the root, and made a medicine which cured the people. In Penobscot homes, pieces of the dried root were strung together and hung up for preservation. Steaming it throughout the home was thought to "kill" sickness. While travelling, a piece of root was kept and chewed to ward off illness.[33]

Teton-Dakota warriors chewed the root to a paste, which they rubbed on their faces. It was thought to prevent excitement and fear when facing an enemy.[33]

The Potawatomi people powdered the dried root and placed this up the nose to cure catarrh.[33]

Illustration from an 1885 flora

Herbal medicine[edit]

Sweet flag has a very long history of medicinal use in Chinese and Indian herbal traditions.[34] The leaves, stems, and roots are used in various Siddha and Ayurvedic medicines.[35] It is widely employed in modern herbal medicine as its sedative, laxative, diuretic, and carminative properties.[4] It is used in Ayurveda to counter the side effects of all hallucinogens.[36] Sweet Flag, known as "Rat Root" is one of the most widely and frequently used herbal medicines amongst the Chipewyan people.[37]

Hallucinogenic properties[edit]

Chewing the rootstock of the plant can cause visual hallucinations, possibly due to the presence of alpha-asarone or beta-asarone.[38]

Horticulture[edit]

This plant is sometimes used as a pond plant in horticulture.[39] There is at least one ornamental cultivar known, it is usually called 'Variegatus',[40] but the RHS recommends calling it 'Argenteostriatus'.[41]

Modern Research[edit]

Acorus calamus shows neuroprotective effect against stroke and chemically induced neurodegeneration in rats. Specifically, it has protective effect against acrylamide induced neurotoxicity.[42]

Both roots and leaves of A. calamus have shown antioxidant,[43] antimicrobial and insecticidal activities.[3]

Acorus calamus may prove to be an effective control measure against cattle tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus.[44]

A recent study showed that beta-asarone isolated from Acorus calamus oil inhibits adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells and thus reduces lipid accumulation in fat cells.[45]

Chemistry[edit]

Both triploid and tetraploid A. calamus contain alpha-asarone.[4] Other phytochemicals include:

Diploids do not contain beta-asarone (β-asarone).[50]

Cultural symbolism[edit]

The calamus has long been a symbol of love. The name is associated with a Greek myth: Kalamos, son of the river-god Maeander, who loved the youth Karpos, of Zephyrus (the West Wind) and Chloris (Spring). When Karpos drowned in a swimming race, Kalamos also drowned and was transformed into a reed, whose rustling in the wind was interpreted as a sigh of lamentation.

The plant was a favorite of Henry David Thoreau (who called it "sweet flag"), and also of Walt Whitman, who added a section called the "Calamus" poems, to the third edition of Leaves of Grass (1860). In the poems the calamus is used as a symbol of love, lust, and affection.

The root of the calamus (Tamil vasambu வசம்பு) is cut into disc-shaped beads, and made into bracelets, which are typically worn by newborns for the first few months. A vasambu bracelet is a symbol of a newborn baby in Tamil culture.

Safety and Regulations[edit]

A. calamus and products derived from A. calamus (such as its oil) were banned in 1968 as food additives and medicines by the United States Food and Drug Administration.[51] The FDA ban was the result of lab studies that involved supplementing the diets of lab animals over a prolonged period of time with massive doses of isolated chemicals (β-asarone) from the Indian Jammu strain of calamus. The animals developed tumors, and the plant was labeled procarcinogenic.[52][53] Wichtl says "It is not clear whether the observed carcinogenic effects in rats are relevant to the human organism."[54] However, most sources advise caution in ingesting strains other than the diploid strain.

In reality β-asarone is not actually a carcinogen but it is a procarcinogen that is neither hepatotoxic nor directly hepatocarcinogenic. It must first undergo metabolic l'-hydroxylation in the liver before achieving toxicity. Cyrochrome P450 in the hepatocytes is responsible for secreting the hydrolyzing enzymes that convert β-asarone into genotoxic epoxide structure.[55] Even with the activation of these metabolites, the carcinogenic potency is very low due to the rapid breakdown of epoxide residues with hydrolase which leaves these compounds inert (Luo, 1992).[citation needed] Additionally, the major metabolite of β-asarone is 2,4,5-trimethoxycinnamic acid, a derivative which is not a carcinogen (Hasheminejad & Caldwell, 1999).

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Lansdown, R.V. (2014). "Acorus calamus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Sylvan T. Runkel, Alvin F. Bull (1979, 2009). Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands. Iowa City, Iowa: University of Iowa Press. p. 119. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Balakumbahan, R.; K. Rajamani; K. Kumanan (29 December 2010). "Acorus calamus: An overview". Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 4 (25): 2740–2745. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Gualtiero Simonetti (1990). Stanley Schuler, ed. Simon & Schuster's Guide to Herbs and Spices. Simon & Schuster, Inc. ISBN 0-671-73489-X. 
  5. ^ Pliny the Elder; The Natural History, book 25, chapter 100; http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/Roman/Texts/Pliny_the_Elder/25*.html
  6. ^ Dioscorides, Pedanius; Περὶ ὕλης ἰατρικῆς (De Materia Medica), Ch. 2, pg. 11; 50-70; translation by Sprengel, Karl Philipp; 1829
  7. ^ http://www.scientificlatin.org/philbot/pb240.html
  8. ^ Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary; Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries; http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/cgi-bin/monier/serveimg.pl?file=/scans/MWScan/MWScanjpg/mw0260-karSaphala.jpg
  9. ^ Liddell, Henry George and Scott, Robert; A Greek-English Lexicon, κάλα^μος; Oxford University Press; 1925; http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0057:entry=ka/lamos&highlight=acorus
  10. ^ Harper, Douglas; Online Etymological Dictionary; http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=shawm; accessed 9 July 2013
  11. ^ Avadhani, Mythili et al.; The Sweetness and Bitterness of Sweet Flag [Acorus calamus L.] – A Review; Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 2, Page No. 598; April–June 2013; http://www.rjpbcs.com/pdf/2013_4%282%29/%5B67%5D.pdf
  12. ^ Harper, Douglas; Online Etymological Dictionary; http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=flag&allowed_in_frame=0
  13. ^ http://www.rook.org/earl/bwca/nature/aquatics/acorus.html
  14. ^ a b c d Heng, Li (李恒), Guanghua, Zhu (朱光华); and Bogner, Josef; Flora of China, Vol. 23, Acoraceae; Science Press & Missouri Botanical Garden; Beijing & St. Louis; 2010; accessed at http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=200027130
  15. ^ a b c d e Govaerts, R.; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; 2002; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/namedetail.do?name_id=2309; accessed 9 July 2013
  16. ^ African Plant Database, Acorus calamus; Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques & South African National Biodiversity Institute; last modified 2007-02-14; http://www.ville-ge.ch/musinfo/bd/cjb/africa/details.php?langue=an&id=30524; accessed 9 July 2013
  17. ^ Euro+Med Plantbase; http://ww2.bgbm.org/EuroPlusMed/PTaxonDetail.asp?NameId=77936&PTRefFk=8000000; accessed 9 July 2013
  18. ^ Randall, R.P.; The introduced flora of Australia and its weed status; CRC for Australian Weed Management; Glen Osmond; September 2007; accessed at http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/objtwr/imported_assets/content/hort/intro_flora_australia.pdf
  19. ^ Index de la flore vasculaire de la Réunion; http://www.tela-botanica.org/eflore/BDNFM/2006.01/nn/118; accessed 9 July 2013
  20. ^ a b c d Thompson, Sue A.; Flora of North America, Acorus; 2000; http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=100307
  21. ^ Gilmore, Melvin R., Dispersal By Indians a Factor in the Extension of Discontinuous Distribution of Certain Species of Native Plants, Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters 13 (1931): 89–94; http://triscience.com/General/dispersal-by-indians-a-factor-in-the-extension-of-discontinuous-distribution-of-certain-species-of-native-plants/doculite_view
  22. ^ a b c Ogra, R. K. et al.; Indian calamus (Acorus calamus L.): not a tetraploid; Current Science, Vol. 97, No. 11, 10 December 2009; Current Science Association; Bangalore; http://www.currentscience.ac.in/Downloads/article_id_097_11_1644_1647_0.pdf
  23. ^ The Plant List; http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/search?q=acorus+calamus; accessed 9 July 2013
  24. ^ Tropicos; Missouri Botanical Garden; http://www.tropicos.org/NameSearch.aspx?name=Acorus+calamus&commonname=; accessed 9 July 2013
  25. ^ a b Hong, Wang, Wenli, Li, Zhijian, Gu and Yongyan, Chen; Cytological study on Acorus L. in southwestern China, with some cytogeographical notes on A. calamus; Acta Botanica Sinica, 2001, 43(4):354-358; http://europepmc.org/abstract/CBA/348223/reload=0;jsessionid=tdWTGuYlZomEXqtMfwaO.6
  26. ^ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17402025
  27. ^ a b Manniche, Lisa; An Ancient Egyptian Herbal, pg. 74; American University in Cairo Press; Cairo; 2006; ISBN 977 416 034 7
  28. ^ Rohde, Eleanour Sinclair; The Old English Herbals; Longmans, Green and Co.; 1922; accessed at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33654/33654-h/33654-h.htm
  29. ^ Turner, William; Libellus de re herbaria, pg. Aii; 1538; in Jackson, Benjamin Daydon; Libellus de re herbaria novus, by William Turner, originally pub. in 1538, reprinted in facsimile, pg. 36; private print; London; 1877; accessed at http://archive.org/stream/libellusdereherb00turn#page/n36/mode/1up
  30. ^ Jackson, Benjamin Daydon; A catalogue of plants cultivated in the garden of John Gerard, pg. 1, 23; private printing; London; 1876; accessed at http://archive.org/details/mobot31753002733357
  31. ^ Hüsken, Wim N. M (1996), "Rushbearing:a forgotten British custom", English parish drama., p. 17, ISBN 90-420-0060-0 
  32. ^ Hirsch, Pamela; Gladstar, Rosemary (2000). Planting the future: saving our medicinal herbs. Rochester, Vt: Healing Arts Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-89281-894-8. 
  33. ^ a b c Erichsen-Brown, Charlotte (1989). Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to the Eastern Indian Tribes. Dover Publications. pp. 231–232. ISBN 978-0-486-25951-2. 
  34. ^ Mukherjee P.K., Kumar V., Mal M., Houghton P.J. "Acorus calamus: Scientific validation of ayurvedic tradition from natural resources"Pharmaceutical Biology 2007 45:8 (651–666)
  35. ^ "Vasambu". Tamilnadu.com. 1 April 2013. 
  36. ^ Dr. Vasant K. Lad, Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing
  37. ^ Johnson, Derek; Linda Kershaw; Andy MacKinnon; Jim Pojar (1995). Plants of the Western Boreal Forest & Aspen Parkland. Lone Pine Publishing. ISBN 1-55105-058-7. 
  38. ^ Schultes, Richard Evans. A golden guide to hallucinogenic plants. New York: Golden Press. p. 73. ISBN 0307243621. 
  39. ^ Oudhia, P. (2002).Rice-Acorus intercropping: a new system developed by innovative farmers of Chhattisgarh (India).International Rice Research Notes.27 (1):56.
  40. ^ Missouri Botanical Garden; http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/plant-finder/plant-details/kc/a634/acorus-calamus-variegatus.aspx; accessed 9 July 2013
  41. ^ Royal Horticultural Society; http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/plant?plantid=56; accessed 9 July 2013
  42. ^ Shukla PK, Khanna VK, Ali MM, Maurya R, Khan MY, Srimal RC. "Neuroprotective effect of Acorus calamus against middle cerebral artery occlusion-induced ischaemia in rat" Hum Exp Toxicology (April 2006) 25(4):187-94. PMID 16696294;Shukla PK, Khanna VK, Ali MM, Maurya RR, Handa SS, Srimal RC. "Protective effect of acorus calamus against acrylamide induced neurotoxicity" Phytother Res. (May 2002) 16(3):256-60. PMID 12164272
  43. ^ S. Asha Devi; Deepak Ganjewala, "Antioxidant Activities of Methanolic Extracts of Sweet-Flag (Acorus calamus) Leaves and Rhizomes" Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants Volume 17, Issue 1, 2011, Pages 1 – 11
  44. ^ Ghosh S, Sharma AK, Kumar S, Tiwari SS, Rastogi S, Srivastava S, Singh M, Kumar R, Paul S, Ray DD, Rawat AK "In vitro and in vivo efficacy of Acorus calamus extract against Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus." Parasitol Res. 2011 Feb;108(2):361-70
  45. ^ Meng-Hwan Lee, , Yun-Yu Chen, , Jung-Wei Tsai,Sheue-Chi Wang, Takashi Watanabe and Ying-Chieh Tsai, Inhibitory effect of β-asarone, a component of Acorus calamus essential oil, on inhibition of adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells. Food ChemistryVolume 126, Issue 1, 1 May 2011, Pages 1–7. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.08.052
  46. ^ Streloke, M. et al.; Ascher, K. R. S.; Schmidt, G. H.; Neumann, W. P. (1989). "Vapor pressure and volatility of β-asarone, the main ingredient of an indigenous stored-product insecticide, Acorus calamus oil". Phytoparasitica 17 (4): 299–313. doi:10.1007/BF02980759. 
  47. ^ Paneru, R.B. et al.; Lepatourel, G; Kennedy, S (1997). "Toxicity of Acorus calamus rhizome powder from Eastern Nepal to Sitophilus granarius (L.) and Sitophilus oryzae (L.) (Coleoptera, Curculionidae)". Crop Protection 16 (8): 759–763. doi:10.1016/S0261-2194(97)00056-2. 
  48. ^ Marongiu, Bruno et al.; Piras, Alessandra; Porcedda, Silvia; Scorciapino, Andrea (2005). "Chemical Composition of the Essential Oil and Supercritical CO2 Extract of Commiphora myrrha (Nees) Engl. and of Acorus calamus L.". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 53 (20): 7939–7943. doi:10.1021/jf051100x. 
  49. ^ Raina, V. K. et al.; Srivastava, S. K.; Syamasunder, K. V. (2003). "Essential oil composition of Acorus calamus L. from the lower region of the Himalayas". Flavour and Fragrance Journal 18 (1): 18–20. doi:10.1002/ffj.1136. 
  50. ^ Essential oil composition and antimicrobial assay of Acorus calamus leaves from different wild populations, J Radušienė, A Judžentienė… – Plant Genetics, 2007 – Cambridge Univ Press, 1982; Lander and Schreier, 1990
  51. ^ {{cite web url=http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=189.110 |title=Code of Federal regulations, title 21}}
  52. ^ http://www.herbcraft.org/calamus.html
  53. ^ Natural carcinogenic products, EK Weisburger – Environmental Science & Technology, 1979 – ACS Publications
  54. ^ Wichtl, Max,Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals: a handbook,2004
  55. ^ American Herbal Products Association's botanical safety handbook, By American Herbal Products Association, Michael McGuffin
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Acorus calamus, a sterile triploid, was introduced to North America by early European settlers, who grew it for medicinal uses. Rhizomes propagate easily, and the species has spread throughout northeast and central United States. Scattered populations occur elsewhere. Although leaf and spadix size of A. calamus and A. americanus overlap, those measurements differ significantly, with A. calamus in general having longer and wider leaves and longer spadices.
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‘Sweet flag’ is found in marshy places and along river banks from (600-) 1000-2000 m. The rootstock is medicinal and yields an oil used in the manufacture of soap, cosmetics and in the liquor industry; it is also medicinal, being used in stomach complaints, snake bite, as an insect repellant, and for remittent fevers.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: As treated by Kartesz, Acorus calamus excludes the plants sometimes treated as Acorus calamus var. americanus, which (following Thompson, 1995, Ph.D. diss., U.Illinois) is treated by him as Acorus americanus. Kartesz (1999) considers at least some material of both species to be native in North America. LEM 8Jun98 & 14Jun99.

There has been confusion or disagreement as to the native status of this species in North America (Gleason and Cronquist 1963, Great Plains Flora Association 1986, Hitchcock and Cronquist 1976). Kartesz (1999) now recognizes two species (sometimes treated by others as varieties) of Acorus in North America. Under this taxonomy, Acorus americanus is the name given the native North American taxon, while A. calamus refers to the primarily Eurasian taxon, which is also considered native in parts of its present range in North America. Most botanists also consider these two taxa separate; however, there remains a great deal of disagreement about whether A. calamus is native anywhere in North America or not. The two are superficially very similar and difficult to distinguish, but they differ in chromosome number as well as other important characteristics (Michael Oldham pers. comm.). A commonly cited morphological difference between these taxa is the presence of only one raised vein running the length of the basal leaves in the Eurasian taxon, whereas the native North American taxon has two or more such veins (Swink and Wilhelm 1994). As further evidence that these taxa are not conspecific, one herbal remedy guide reports that the Eurasian material contains a carcinogen which North American material lacks (Tierra 1990).

Packer and Ringius (1984) contains information regarding the taxonomic status and distribution of Acorus in Canada.

There remains a great deal of confusion and disagreement among botanists regarding this species. Many reports of Acorus calamus throughout North America probably belong to A. americanus instead.

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