Calamus (genus)

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Sweet flag
Sweet flag (Acorus calamus)

Sweet flag ( Acorus calamus )

Subdivision : Seed plants (Spermatophytina)
Class : Bedecktsamer (Magnoliopsida)
Order : Calamus
Family : Calamus family
Genre : Sweet flag
Scientific name of the  order
Scientific name of the  family
Scientific name of the  genus

Calamus ( Acorus ) is the only genus in the monotypic family of the Calamus family (Acoraceae), the only family of the order of the Calamus (Acorales). It is the most basic genus of the monocotyledons . For the German common names see under the article on the species Acorus calamus .


Illustration of sweet flag ( Acorus calamus )

Calamus species are perennial herbaceous plants . These marsh plants form rhizomes as survival organs . An aerenchyma is formed. All parts of the plant are bare. If you damage parts of plants, they smell strongly aromatic. The basal and two-line leaves are sessile. The simple leaf blade is flat, parallel-veined, unifacial and sword-shaped.

Seeds of the medicinal sweet flag ( Acorus calamus )

In a ährigen total inflorescence sit more bulbous inflorescences together. Many flowers are arranged in cobs . The spathe is stem-like. The hermaphroditic flowers are inconspicuous, threefold and pentacyclic (with five petal circles). The six identical, free bracts are brownish and membranous. There are two circles with three free, fertile , yellow stamens each. Most three (two to four) carpels have become a top permanent ovary grown from two to four (rarely up to five) ovules per ovary chamber. A stylus is not recognizable and so the scars sit directly on the ovary.

The brown to reddish fruits are interpreted as capsule fruits or berries and have a thin, leathery pericarp .

The chromosome numbers are 2n = (22), 24, 36, (44), 48.

Systematics and distribution

map of the genus Acorus

The genus Acorus was listed in Species Plantarum , 1, p. 324 in 1753 . Type species is Acorus calamus L. A synonym for Acorus L. is Calamus Garsault . The family name Acoraceae was made by Iwan Iwanowitsch Martynow in Tekhno-Bot. Slovar. , Published in 1820, page 6.

The genus name Acorus comes from the Greek Ἄκορον (Ákoron) , a medicinal plant that Dioscorides describes as similar to the iris ; whether he really means the sweet flag remains uncertain.

The calamus family (Acoraceae) are the most basic group of the monocotyledons (monocotyledons). Earlier the species was Acorus the family of Araceae (Araceae) is assigned.

The calamus species are native to temperate to subtropical Asia as well as North America and also in Southeast Asia. They are feral in many areas of the world, for example Egypt and Europe .

Depending on the author, the genus Acorus contains only two ( Flora of China 2010 and Kew) up to six species or a few subspecies or varieties:

  • Narrow-leaved or dwarf calamus ( Acorus gramineus Sol. Ex Aiton , Syn .: Acorus humilis Salisb. , Acorus pusillus Siebold , Acorus gramineus var. Pusillus (Siebold) Engl. , Acorus gramineus var. Macrospadiceus Yamam. , Acorus gramineus var. Japonica M .Hotta , Acorus macrospadiceus (Yamam.) FNWei & YKLi , Acorus xiangyeus Z.Y.Zhu ): It is distributed from the Himalayas via Myanmar , Thailand and China to Japan and the Philippines .
  • Kalmus ( Acorus calamus L. ): It thrives in temperate regions of India , the Himalayas and southern Asia, is cultivated all over the world and is often neglected. There are three accepted varieties:
    • Acorus calamus L. var. Calamus (Syn .: Acorus calamus var. Verus L. , Acorus calamus var. Vulgaris L. , Acorus verus Garsault , Acorus odoratus Lam. , Acorus aromaticus Gilib. , Acorus elatus Salisb. , Acorus calamus aromaticus Clairv. , Acorus undulatus Stokes , Acorus terrestris Spreng. , Acorus europaeus Dumort. , Acorus calamus var. Europeus Raf. , Acorus verus (L.) Raf. , Acorus flexuosus Raf. , Acorus floridanus Raf. , Acorus angustatus Raf. , Acorus griffithii Schott , Acorus nilghirensis Schott , Acorus commutatus Schott , Acorus angustifolius Schott , Acorus belangeri Schott , Acorus casia Bertol. , Acorus commersonii Schott , Acorus calamus var. angustifolius (Schott) Engl. , Acorus calamus var. belangeri (Schott) Engl. )
    • Acorus calamus var. Americanus Raf. (Syn .: Acorus americanus (Raf.) Raf. ): It is distributed in Alaska , Canada and in the northern USA , in Siberia and in temperate areas of Asia.
    • Acorus calamus var. Angustatus Better (Syn .: Acorus cochinchinensis (Lour.) Schott , Acorus tatarinowii Schott , Acorus terrestris Rumph. Ex Schott nom illeg.., Acorus triqueter Turcz. Ex Schott , Acorus spurius Schott , Acorus calamus var. Spurius ( Schott) Engl. , Acorus gramineus var. Crassispadix Lingelsh. , Acorus asiaticus Nakai , Acorus rumphianus S.Y. Hu , Acorus latifolius Z.Y.Zhu ): It occurs in Asia.

Ingredients and use

The "calamus oil " ('Calami aetheroleum', from all parts of the plant) and "field root" (dried rhizomes, also called "calamus red" or "gastric root") are obtained from species of calamus. The most important ingredients are asarone , the content of which varies depending on the species (here there are varying degrees of ploidy ) and part of the plant (leaves or roots). Diploid American calamus contains no β-asarone, triploid European calamus a maximum of 10% and Indian calamus ( tetraploid ) up to 96% β-asarone. Other ingredients are farnesene (mainly the β-farnese, up to 46%), geranyl acetate (up to 77%), the methyl ether of cis - isoeugenol (maximum 36%), shyobunon (0–53%), acorenon (6–9%) as well as various monoterpenes ( camphene , limonene , myrcene and pinene ).

Calamus oil is used in medicine and in perfume and liqueur production and for bitters. Calamus is considered invigorating and appetizing and is used in folk medicine as a decoction against stomach and digestive problems, coughs (an antispasmodic effect has been proven) and colds, pain and inflammation, although the effectiveness is usually not scientifically proven.

Due to the proven mutagenic , carcinogenic and reproductive effects of Asarone, the use of calamus oil or other calamus products in foods is only permitted to a limited extent; in the USA and Canada , the use of calamus products is not allowed.


Calamus species are reed-like reed plants that colonize ditches, the banks of ponds, streams and slow-flowing rivers and swamps in the temperate climatic zones of the northern hemisphere.


  • The family of Acoraceae in APWebsite. (Sections systematics and description)
  • The Acoraceae family at DELTA. (Section description)
  • Heng Li, Guanghua Zhu & Josef Bogner: Acoraceae . In: Wu Zheng-yi, Peter H. Raven & Deyuan Hong (Eds.): Flora of China . Acoraceae-Cyperaceae. Volume 23. Science Press and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing et al. 2010, ISBN 978-1-930723-99-3 , pp. 1 (English, " Acoraceae - Online " - online text is identical to the printed work; printed work - full text online). (Sections Description, Systematics and Distribution)
  • Sue A. Thompson: Acoraceae. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (Ed.): Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 22: Magnoliophyta: Alismatidae, Arecidae, Commelinidae (in part), and Zingiberidae , Oxford University Press, New York / Oxford, 2000, ISBN 0-19-513729-9 (sections description, systematics and distribution, the same text online as the printed work ).

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Heng Li, Guanghua Zhu, Josef Bogner: Acoraceae. In: Wu Zheng-yi, Peter H. Raven, Deyuan Hong (Eds.): Flora of China. Volume 23: Acoraceae through Cyperaceae , Science Press and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing / St. Louis, 2010, ISBN 978-1-930723-99-3 ( same text online as the printed work ).
  2. a b c d e f g Rafaël Govaerts (Ed.): Acorus. In: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP) - The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  3. ^ Acoraceae at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
  4. ^ Dioscurides, De materia medica I, 2, German translation with notes: Prof. Dr. J. Berendes, Stuttgart 1902, p. 25f.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  5. a b c d e W. Blaschek, R. Hänsel, K. Keller, J. Reich Ling, H. Rimpler, G. Schneider (ed.): Hager's Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, 2 sequence band drug A-K . 5th edition. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg / New York 2012, ISBN 978-3-642-63794-0 , pp. 18–33 ( online - unaltered reprint of the first edition from 1998).
  6. Entry on calamus oil. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on May 29, 2015.
  7. Entry on Asarone. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on May 29, 2015.

Web links

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