This aquatic perennial goes by many name including beewort,  calamus, flag root, gladdon, myrtle flag, pine root, sea sedge and  sweet cane.  It is native to Asia and Europe where it grows at the edges of small lakes, ponds and rivers, marshes, swamps, and wetlands.  Acornus calamus is one of only two species in the family, Acornaceae.  Plants have a root system of branching rhizomes and form clumps of basal, sword-like leaves that resembles those of iris.  They are up to 30″ long, are flattened, and have one wavy margin and a conspicuous midrib. A 2-4″ long spadix  of inconspicuous greenish flowers appear in a diamond pattern in late spring to early summer. The fruit is a tiny fleshy berry.  The plant has been used for medicinal purposes but there is no clinical evidence for its  safety or efficacy.  The leaves and root stock have a pleasant fragrance when crushed and were used as a strewing herb and in perfume making.  The plants are valuable for rain, bog, and edges of water gardens.  The genus name, Acornus, is from the Greek word  άχόρου derived from κόρη  which means pupil of the eye and refers to the use of the root juice to cure eye diseases.  The specific epithet, calamus, is from the Greek word kάλαμος meaning reed and refers to the appearance of the plant.

Type: Aquatic herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Two to four inch long spadix of tiny greenish flowers in late spring

Size: 2-2.5′ H x 1.5-2′ W

Light: Full sun to part shade

Soil: Medium moist to wet (shallow standing water)

Hardiness: Zones 4-10

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Division of rhizome

Companion Plants: Iris pseudacornus ‘Variegatus’, purple loosestrife, cardinal flower

Outstanding Selections: ‘Variegatus’ (white striped leaves)

Photo Credits: Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons

By Karen