Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus)

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This plant is also known as Beewort, Bitter Pepper Root, Myrtle Flag, Sweet Cane and Sweet Cinnamon.   The scented leaves and rhizomes have been used to make fragrances and also as a substitute for ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Sweet Flag is a perennial iris like herb.   When the leaves are cut or crushed they produce a sweet tangerine like scent.   It provides a habitat for waterfowl.   Muskrats ear the rhizomes and wood ducks eat the seeds.   Sweet Flag is actually native to Europe but it was introduced into North America by the Europeans in the 1600s.   The Cherokee used this plant prior to the Trail of Tears in 1838 and 1839.

The Cherokee would chew the roots of this plant to treat headaches and worms.   The plant was also made into an infusion to treat and prevent recurrent spasms.  The Cherokee also learned they could make a tea from the roots and it was effective in treating colic.   An infusion was also used to treat colds and sore throats.  Finally, a tea was make to use as a diuretic.

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Sweet Flag can have variations in the color of the leaves, from solid green to green/ gold, and even green/ white.

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This is a great accent plant in a water feature if you have one in your garden.    It will do fine in a regular flower bed but it will need additional water.    Just be aware it can be invasive in water feature.   It prefers full sun to part shade.

 

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