Scientific name: Acorus calamus

Common names: Grass Myrtle, Sweet Grass, Sweet Root, Sweet Rush, Sweet Sedge, Myrtle Flag, Sweet Myrtle, Sea Serge

Ayurvedic names: Vacha

Chinese names: shui chang pu

Bangladesh names: Supari, Tari, Vach

Arabic names:    قصب الذريرة (qassabu ath-thareerah)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Araceae

Approximate number of species known: 150

Common parts used: Root

Collection: Early autumn to late autumn

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 6- 12 inches height

Actions: Anti-spasmodic, aromatic, carminative,  Demulcent, vulnerary

Known Constituents: Mucilage, glycosdies, tannins

Constituents Explained: Acorus calamus Variegata


Used as a tonic for the digestive tract, has muculgous properties that calm the digestive tract.  The bitter aspect may stimulate digestion too. Used for ulcers and failing appetite.  

Its used in fevers and to prevent griping caused by other herbs.1  The root once dried has been used to induce nausea in those who smoke tobacco and destroy the taste for it.

Traditional Use: Digestive bitter and Carminative use and internal use

Clinical Studies:

The constituents and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil from Acorus calamus were analysed. Methyl isoeugenol and cyclohexanone were identified as the major constituents of the essential oil.

The essential oil was tested for antimicrobial activity against bacteria and yeast, and has shown strong antibiotic activities against most of the tested microbes, except Escherichia coli. 

The hexane extract has shown a similar pattern of antimicrobial activity as the essential oil. Methyl isoeugenol, the most abundant constituent in the essential oil, has also shown similar antimicrobial activity, except against Bacillus subtilis. 

The essential oil as well as the hexane extract and methyl isoeugenol have shown antimicrobial activity against Propionibacterium acne, which is known to be involved in acne vulgaris.


Kim WJ, Hwang KH, Park DG, Kim TJ, Kim DW, Choi DK, Moon WK, Lee KH. “Major Constituents And Antimicrobial Activity Of Korean Herb Acorus Calamus.” 2011 August

Source material:

                   Sedge, Sweet

Latin name:       Acorus calamus

Family:                N.O. Araceae

Other names:

Calamus. Sweet Flag. Sweet Root. Sweet Rush. Sweet Cane. Gladdon. Sweet Myrtle. Myrtle Grass. Myrtle Sedge. Cinnamon Sedge.

It is found in all European countries except Spain. Southern Russia, northern Asia Minor, southern Siberia, China, Japan, northern United States of America, Hungary, Burma, Ceylon and India. It is a tall perennial wetland monocot with scented leaves and more strongly scented rhizomes, which have been used medicinally, for its odor, and as a psychotropic drug.

The Sweet Sedge is a vigorous, reed-like, aquatic plant, flourishing in ditches, by the margins of lakes and streams and in marshy places generally, associated with reeds, bulrushes and bur-reed. The scape or flower-stem arises from the axils of the outer leaves, which it much resembles, but is longer and solid and triangular. From one side, near the middle of its length, projecting upwards at an angle, from the stem, it sends out a solid, cylindrical, blunt spike or spadix, tapering at each end, from 2 to 4 inches in length, often somewhat curved and densely crowded with very small greenish-yellow flowers.

The properties of Calamus are almost entirely due to its volatile oil, obtained by steam distillation. The oil is contained in all parts of the plant, though in greatest quantity in the rhizome, the leaves yielding to distillation 0.2 per cent, the fresh root 1.5 to 3.5 per cent, the dried German root 0.8 per cent, and the Japan root as much as 5 per cent.

Calamus has been an item of trade in many cultures for thousands of years. Calamus has been used medicinally for a wide variety of ailments, and its smell makes calamus essential oil valued in the perfume industry.

–Calamus was formerly much esteemed as an aromatic stimulant and mild tonic. A fluid extract is an official preparation in the United States and some other Pharmacopeias, but it is not now official in the British Pharmacopeia, though it is much used in herbal medicine as an aromatic bitter. 

On account of the volatile oil which is present, it also acts as a carminative, removing the discomfort caused by flatulence and checking the growth of the bacteria which give rise to it. 

It is used to increase the appetite and benefit digestion, given as fluid extract, infusion or tincture. Tincture of Calamus, obtained by macerating the finely-cut rhizome in alcohol for seven days and filtering, is used as a stomachic and flavouring agent. It has a brownish-yellow colour and a pungent, spicy taste. 

The essential oil is used as an addition to inhalations. 

The dried root may be chewed ad libitum to relieve dyspepsia or an infusion of 1 OZ. to 1 pint of boiling water may be taken freely in doses of a teacupful. The dried root is also chewed to clear the voice.

Calamus has been found useful in ague and low fever, and was once greatly used by country people in Norfolk, either in infusion, or powdered, as a remedy against the fever prevalent in the Fens. Its use has been attended with great success where Peruvian bark has failed. It is also beneficial as a mild stimulant in typhoid cases.