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Acorus spp.

Sweet Flag. A genus of aromatic grass-like ground covers.
American sweet flag was used traditionally for endurance.
Japanese sweet flag is used in chinese medicine.

These plants can`t be sent outside of Australia !!

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Acorus spp.

Plants only available within Australia !!

Botanical information

Acorus calamus is perenniel plant, that grows to a height of 1m with a spread of 0.5m. The rhizome is horizontal, creeping,cylindrical, branched and up to 2m long, with a spicy aroma; the stem is erect, unbranched and flowering; the leaves are yellowish green, erect, sword shaped, with entire margins, radical and sheathing; the flowers are greenish yellow, with a keeled stalk and on a densly crowded spike; the fruit are greenish berries.

Indigenous to the northern hemisphere, it prefers lake margins, swampy ditches, or marshes in a protected position. It is frost resitant, but drought tender.

Propagation is by division in autumn or spring. Seed is rarely available.

Shipping without soil is not just the most economical option, but also the best way for the plant, espevcially on long overseas journeys. Just place the plant in a jar of water when it arrives and pot up into soil when new growth appears. Keep plants moist to wet at all times.

Acorus gramineus is a perenniel plant, that grows to a height of 0.3m with a spread of 0.3m. The stem is erect and flowering; the leaves are narrow, erect, 45cm long and densly clump forming; the green flower spathe is inconspicuous. Ogon is a full sized variegated form with stronger colour contrast than the nomal variegated form.

Pusillus and Minimus aureus are dwarf forms reaching only about 10cm in height. Minimus Aureus is the golden coloured dwarf form.

Indigenous to eastern Asia, it prefers wet soils in a protected position, with only filtered sunlight, and is frost resistant but drought tender.

Propagation is by division.

Traditional uses

The history of traditional use of Acorus calamus is not very well documented, but it appears, that this plant was already utilised in ancient Egypt. It was a very popular plant in Europe from the middle ages, right through to today, finding application mostly as aphrodisiac, elixier and stimulant, and in magic rituals. Its presence in North America before European settlement is uncertain, but its use as a stimulant and hallucinogen since then has been well documented. The closely related Acorus gramineus has been used in China as a popular luckcharm, elixier, hallucinogen and medicine since the millenium before Christ.

Recent bioassays have confirmed Acorus gramineus to be a pleasantly suitable substitute for Acorus calamus with a more agreeable flavour and better stimulant effect. Acorus calamus has found popularity in quitting smoking, as it induces mild nausea if chewed just before smoking tobacco.


Acorus calamus derives most of its psychoactive and medicinal action from its active component beta-asarone, which makes up a large percentage of the essential oil produced from the root of asian and indian strain. Small amounts of eugenol, safrole and bitter principles are also present. The root of the american variety is generally low in beta-asarone.

Many countries prohibit the use of calamus, calamus oil or asarone in food and aromatherapy preparations due to it being suspected of having carcinogenic properties. Safrol, which is only present in small quantities in the oil is a presumed carcinogen and should not be consumed in large quantities.

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