Click to enlarge
Most photos by Ann Grandy and Sally J.A.Finzel, unless otherwise noted to the left. Please ask for permission before using images. Soil: Hydric(Wet)
Flowers: A club-like spadix juts out from the 2-sided stem and is covered with tiny flowers.
Leaves: The stiff, sword-like leaves are 1-4' long.
This plant is an excellent choice for shoreline restoration and rain gardens.This plant will tie up toxins in the water and will help to purify it. Its bright yellow-green (not blue-green) iris-like foliage make for a nice contrast with other foliage types. This plant has also been grown inside as a houseplant and can be submerged in aquariums!
Medicinal Uses: Calamus has been found to cause cancer in rats and is not approved for human consumption. Two - year old rhizomes collected in early spring or late autumn used by early settlers and Native Americans. It was used to treat headache, toothache, hangover, and diabetes. It was chewed to relieve exhaustion. Similar plants are found around the world. Calamus is part of a Chinese remedy for heart problems, and it is has been used in India to relieve fevers, asthma and bronchitis. In the Book of Exodus it is listed as an ingredient in holy anointing oil. It has been reported that chewing on a small piece of dried root can improve moods, while a larger piece can be a hallucinogen. It has also been used as an aphrodisiac when added to bathwater.
Native American people often refer to it as "Bitteroot" and have many uses for this plant.
Food Uses: The rootstalks were once used to make candy. If boiled in water for about an hour, with several changes of water, then simmered in syrup, they can be a sweet treat. But use caution, they look similar to the poisonous Blue Flag Iris.
Other Uses: Provides food and habitat for wildlife such as muskrats and wood ducks.
Other Names: Calamus Root, Sweet Flag, Bitteroot, Rat Root, Sweet Sedge, Flag Root, Sweet Calomel, Sweet Myrtle, Sweet Cane, Sweet Rush, Beewort, Muskrat Root, Pine Root
USDA PLANTS Database profile page
Photo of Acorus calamus above is from : Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1995.
Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. , Northeast National Technical Center . Chester