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Acorus calamus L.

Figure 105.—Sweetflag (Acorus calamus)
Other common names.—Sweet cane, sweet grass, sweet myrtle, sweet rush, sweet sedge, sweet segg, sweetroot, cinnamon sedge, myrtle flag, myrtle grass, myrtle sedge, beewort.

Habitat and range.—The plant frequents wet and muddy places and borders of streams from Nova Scotia to Minnesota and southward to Florida and Texas. It is often partly immersed in water.

Description.—The swordlike leaves of the sweetflag resemble those of other flags so much that the plant is difficult to distinguish except when it is in flower. There are reports of children having been poisoned by the rootstock of the blueflag or poison flag through mistaking that plant for the sweetflag on account of the similarity of the leaves. The pointed, sheathing leaves are from 2 to 6 feet in height and about 1 inch in width. The small greenish-yellow flowers which appear from May to July are borne in a fleshy spike about 3 inches long. The long creeping rootstocks are thick and fleshy, somewhat spongy, and have numerous rootless. They have an agreeable aromatic odor and a pungent, bitter taste which are retained after drying.

Part used.—The rootstock, collected in early spring or late in autumn. It must be thoroughly freed from dirt, the rootless removed, and then carefully dried. It deteriorates with age and is subject to the attacks of worms.

Sievers, A.F. 1930. The Herb Hunters Guide. Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC.
Last update Friday, April 3, 1998 by aw