General Herb Information *Note: Bianca Rosa Calamus Root Pure Essential Oil is not to be taken internally. A proliferation of vernacular names indicates one of two facts about any plant. It either indicates a wide natural distribution within an area, with regional differences in language providing its many frequently visually descriptive names. Or, though not common in the wild or actually exotic, it may indicate that it has a large number of uses. In the case of Acorus calamus the latter is clearly the case: it seems to have originated in eastern Europe and adjoining Asia, being used in vanous ways, even before those regions obtained their names. Biblical references and those in Egyptian texts demonstrate its antiquity and thus it was well placed, as with so many herbs, to move westward with the progress of civilization. Sweet flag, sweet sedge, myrtle flag, common calamus, true acorns (as distinct from the less medicinally-desirable yellow flag, Iris pseudacorus) and, to add John Parkinson's evocative title, calanius of the shops, hint as to its herbal value. Predictable recommendations for 'obstructions of the liver and spleen, for the colick' and so on combine with commendations with which the least herbal-minded can easily concur. Joseph Miller (1722): "It has a strong smell, not so pleasant while green, but growing more grateful and aromatic as it dries" making it fit as a strewing herb "against pestilential contagious and corrupt noctious air... and outwardly used in sweet bags and perfumes". It will be realized by now that this is an iris-like plant and, as one of the very few herbs happy to grow in (indeed preferring, if not insisting on) an inch or two of water it is an ideal water-edge subject for a herb garden pool. The long narrow leaves attain a couple of feet above their horizontal fleshy rhizomes: though the foliage is distantly aromatic when crushed, the rhizomes, orris-like, have the greatest virtue. For ornamental use the less vigorous variegated form, elegantly striped with green and cream, is by far the best. In spite of every visual simile being towards irises, sweet flag is in fact a strange member of the arum family. The flower clusters, however, lack the enfolding spathe which is the showy part of most arum lilies and merely emerge from the side of a leaf-like stem (to quote Miller again) "in shape like the Catkin of the Hazel or like long Pepper". A strange and intriguing plant well worth its place: if a pool proper is not available a shallow container will suffice or even moist soil on the shady side of the garden. The spear-like, vertical leaf-pattern of variegated sweet flag makes an excellent foil to the shapes of most herbs. On a much smaller scale, the related Acorus gramineus is useful as a 6 much high edging to beds of small herbs rather as chives are often used, but here the formality necessary for a bed-edge is more naturally maintained In moist soil this little acorns accepts full sun but growth is more typical - like a little tussocky grass - in half-shade. The whole plant is distantly fragrant and the fresh or dried roots are used in the Orient (whence it comes) for, amongst other things, stomach pains. Botanical Name: Acorus calamus Extraction Method: steam Plant: root Origin: Europe
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