Calamus root

Calamus root

Calamus root

Specification & Spread

Calamus rhizomes — rhizomata calami
Sedge cane (calamus) — acorus calamus l.
Arum family — araceae
Other names: kalmus, sweet flag, sedge root, myrtleflag, sedge rush, Indian grass.

It is a perennial herbaceous plant.
The rhizome is horizontal, thick, creeping, with numerous thin adventitious roots. The leaves are up to 1 m long, bright green, xiphoid linear, juicy, gathered in bunches at the ends of the branches of rhizomes.
The stem is trihedral, with a single inflorescence – conical-cylindrical cob up to 12 cm long. The flowers are bisexual, small and greenish-yellow.
The cob is located in the bosom of a long green covering leaf (bedspread).
The fruit is a juicy red berry. In the conditions of the European part of the country, the fruits are not formed, it propagates exclusively vegetatively with the help of rhizomes.

It blooms from May to June.

Spreading. It has a disjunctive area with two sections: European and Asian. It grows in the middle and southern strip of the European part of the country, in the Caucasus, Siberia and the Far East. It is more often found in the forest-steppe and steppe zones, in places forms dense, almost clean thickets.

Habitat. Sedge cane – coastal aquatic plant. It grows along the banks of rivers, ponds, lakes, in stagnant waters on silty soil, on marshy meadows, on the outskirts of marshes. While the harvesting the raw materials, admixture of rhizomes of co-growing swamp iris (iris), or yellow iris— Iris pseudacorus L. is possible. It differs from calamus by large yellow flowers and fruits – capsules are elliptical. In the non-flowering state, swamp iris differs from the calamus for its bluish leaves and the lack of a characteristic fragrant smell and bitter taste in the rhizomes.


The chemical composition of calamus rhizomes

Calamus rhizomes contain up to 5% of essential oil, which consists of mono and sesquiterpenoids:

  • camphor,
  • borneol
  • beta element,
  • alpha-klamen,
  • acoron,
  • isoacorone and others,
  • as well as phenolic compounds:
  • azaron,
  • eugenol,
  • azarilaldehyde.

Essential oil is a liquid with a pleasant smell and taste.

The rhizomes also contain:

  • bitter glycoside akorin,
  • tannins,
  • ascorbic acid,
  • iodine.

The chemical composition in different regions may vary significantly.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. It is harvested from the end of the summer and throughout the autumn, when the water level drops in the reservoirs, less often in spring, in April, at the beginning of the growth of leaves. The rhizomes are excavated, cleaned of soil and sludge, cut off the aerial part and roots, washed in cold running water; then it is kept for several days in the open air, under sheds or in attics, laying out a layer of 2-5 cm. The dry rhizomes are cut into pieces with a length of 5-30 cm, the thick rhizomes are cut longitudinally, removing rotten parts.

Security measures. When harvesting the calamus rhizomes, it is necessary to leave small rhizomes and side branches to restore thickets. The repeated harvesting of the raw materials in the same areas should be carried out in 5-8 years. The cultivation of arrays with replanting rhizomes is practiced.

Drying. The dry rhizomes are dried in attics with good ventilation or under sheds, spread out in a thin layer on bedding. Heat drying is possible at a temperature not higher than 40 ºС.

Storage. It is stored in dry, cool rooms on racks or floor stands according to the rules for storing essential oil raw materials packed in bags or bales.

External signs of raw materials

Whole raw materials

The pieces of rhizomes are light, cylindrical, slightly flattened and curved, sometimes branched, for the most part longitudinally cut. On the upper side, there are wide semi-lunar scars from dead leaves, on the lower side there are numerous small round traces of cut roots; the fracture is uneven and spongy-porous. The length of the pieces is up to 30 cm, the thickness is up to 2 cm.
The color outside is yellowish-brown or reddish-brown, sometimes greenish-brown, traces (scars) of the leaves are dark brown. On a fracture, the color is yellowish or pinkish, sometimes greenish.
The smell is strong and fragrant.
The taste is bitter.

Ground Raw materials

Pieces of rhizomes of various shapes, passing through a sieve with holes of 7 mm diameter. Rhizomes colored is yellowish or pinkish, sometimes greenish with a strong, fragrant smell and bitter taste.
Powder features stay the same, but the particle size changes to 0.31mm diameter.

Properties and application

Pharmacotherapeutic group. The preparation for stimulating appetite, choleretic (appetite stimulant).
The pharmacological properties of calamus

Bitter glycoside acorin contained in calamus rhizomes:

  • increases the excitability of the endings of the gustatory nerves,
  • enhances the reflex separation of gastric juice, especially hydrochloric acid,
  • increases the biliary function of the liver,
  • increases the tone of the gallbladder
  • increases diuresis.

Calamus rhizomes have anti-inflammatory effects due to essential oil.

Essential oil possesses:

  • antimicrobial activity against a number of microorganisms, in particular the associations of microbes of the periodontal pockets in patients with periodontal disease, retards the growth of staphylococci, escherichia,
  • has a fungistatic effect.

The essential oil component, azaron, has a calming effect on the central nervous system, exerting an anticonvulsant, antiarrhythmic, antispasmodic, bronchodilator effect in the experiment.

Application of calamus rhizome

Calamus rhizomes are used internally as bitterness to stimulate the appetite for gastrointestinal diseases:

  • especially gastritis occurring with low acidity,
  • colitis.

Calamus, in connection with anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, analgesic effect, is recommended for:

  • gosh,
  • gingivitis,
  • periodontal disease and
  • other inflammatory processes of the oral mucosa.


Application of calamus Calamus is contraindicated during pregnancy, with high acidity of gastric secretions, bleeding from the nose, acute inflammation in the kidneys, exacerbations of gastrointestinal ulcers.

The preparations from plants tend to lower blood pressure, which should be considered hypotensive.