Botanical Name Acorus calamus
Description / Color / Consistency
Aromatic Summary / Note / Strength of Aroma Calamus Root has a faintly sweet, waxy scent with a base note and medium aroma.
Blends With Lavender, Tea tree, Rosemary, Clary Sage, Geranium and Marjoram.
Only plants that grow in water bear flowers. The solid, triangular flower-stems rise from the axils of the outer leaves. A semi-erect spadix emerges from one side of the flower stem. The spadix is solid, cylindrical, tapers at each end, and is 5 to 10 cm in length. A covering spathe, as is usual with Acoraceae, is absent. The spadix is densely crowded with tiny greenish-yellow flowers. Each flower contains six petals and stamens enclosed in a perianth with six divisions, surrounding a three-celled, oblong ovary with a sessile stigma. The flowers are sweetly fragrant. In Europe, it flowers for about a month in late spring or early summer, but usually does not bear fruit. The fruit is a berry filled with mucus, which when ripe falls into the water and thus disperses. Even in Asia, it fruits sparingly, and propagates itself mainly by growth of its rhizome, forming colonies.
The Bible mentions its use in the holy anointing oil ( Exodus 30: 23). Although probably not native to Egypt, this plant was already mentioned in the Chester Beatty papyrus dating to approximately 1300 BC. The ancient Egyptians rarely mentioned the plant in medicinal contexts but it was certainly used to make perfumes.
Calamus is a perennial herb, 30 to 100 cm tall. In habit it resembles the Iris. It consists of tufts of basal leaves that rise from a spreading rhizome. The leaves are erect yellowish-green, radical, with pink sheathing at their bases, sword-shaped, flat and narrow, tapering into a long, acute point, and have parallel veins. The leaves have smooth edges, which can be wavy or crimped.
Dilute before use; for external use only. May cause skin irritation in some individuals; a skin test is recommended prior to use. Contact with eyes should be avoided.
Hazards None known.
Contraindications None known.
Adverse skin reactions No information found for diploid calamus oil, or any of its major constituents. Systemic effects.
Acute toxicity No information found for diploid calamus oil, or any of its major constituents.
Carcinogenic/anticarcinogenic potential No information ! found for diploid calamus oil, but it contains no known carcinogens. a-Cadinol is active against the human colon cancer cell line HT-29.
The diploid form of calamus is found in North America and Siberia. This cytotype of Acorus calamus, which contains no b-asarone, has been identified by DNA sequencing. However, the toxicology of this type of oil and its major constituents remains unknown.