Cultivation of Scorns
Botanical Name: Acorns calamus
Sweet flag has a very long history of medicinal use in many herbal traditions. It is widely employed in modern herbal medicine as an aromatic stimulant and mild tonic. In Ayurveda it is highly valued as a rejuvenator for the brain and nervous system and as a remedy for digestive disorders. The root is anodyne, aphrodisiac, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmernagogue, expectorant, and febrifuge, hallucinogenic hypotensive, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, mildly tonic and vermifuge. It is used internally in the treatment of digestive complaints, bronchitis, and sinusitis. It is said to have wonderfully tonic powers of stimulating and normalizing the appetite. In small doses it reduces stomach acidity whilst larger doses increase stomach secretions and it is, therefore, recommended in the treatment of anorexia nervosa. However if the dose is too large it will cause nausea and vomiting.
The leaves are used in basket making or woven into mats. They have also been used as a thatch for roofs. An essential oil from the rhizome is used in perfumery and as food flavoring. The oil is contained mainly in the outer skin of the root. It has a fragrance reminiscent of patchouli oil. The fresh roots yield about 1.5-3.5 % essential oil, dried roots about 0.8 %. The essential oil is also an insect repellent and insecticide, it is effective against houseflies. When added to rice being stored in granaries it has significantly reduced loss caused by insect damage because the oil in the root has sterilized the male rice weevils. An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used in perfumery and for making aromatic vinegars. The leaves and the root have refreshing scent of cinnamon. AH parts of plant can be dried and used to repel insects or scent linen cup boards. They can also be burnt as incense whilst the whole plant was formerly used as a strewing herb. The growing plant is said to repel mosquitoes.
Prefers growing in shallow water or in a very moist loamy soil. Requires a sunny position. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 to 7.5. Plants are hardy to about – 25 oC. The sweet flag has a long history of use as a medicinal and culinary plant. It has been cultivated for this purpose but was more commonly allowed to naturalize and was then harvested from the wild. The plant seldom flowersfof" sets seed in Britain and never does so unless it is growing in water. It can spread quite freely at the roots however, and soon becomes established.
Seed best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stand the pot in about 3 cm of water. Pot up young seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle, keep them wet by standing the pots in shallow water and over winter for the first year in the green house or cold frame. Seed is rarely produced in ritain. Division in spring just before growth starts. Very easy, it can be carried out successfully at any time in the growing season and can be planted direct into its permanent positions.
Varieties of Acorus:
In older literature and on many websites, there is still much conllusion, with the name Acorus calamus equally but wrongfully applied to Acorus americanus.
The genus includes as many as six varieties :
1. Acorus americanus (Fa.) Raf. (formerly known as A. calamus var. americanus) : American sweet flag; fertile diploid (2n = 24), occurring in Alaska, Canada and Northern USA. Diploid plants in Siberia and temperate. Asia may also belong here, but have not been fully investigated.
2. Acorus calamus L. – Common Sweet flag : Sterile triploid (3n=36), probably of cultivated origin. It is native to Europe, temperate India and the Himalayas and southern Asia, widely cultivated and naturalized
3. Acorus gramineus Sol. Ex. Aiton – Japanese Sweet Flag or Grassy leaved Sweet Flag; fertile dipliid (2n = 18); occurring in the Himalayas to Japan, Myantnar, Thialand, the Philippines.
4. Acorus triqueter. Turez, ex. Schott (syn. A. calamus var. angustatus) – fertile tetraploid (4n = 48) ; occurring in eastern Asia, japan and Taiwan.
5. Acorus latifolius Z.Y. Zhu : native to China.
6. Acorus xiangyeus Z.Y. Zhu: native to China