Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Sweet Flag
Acorus calamus

Family: Araceae (a-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Acorus (AK-or-us) (Info)
Species: calamus (KAL-uh-mus) (Info)

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

15 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo
Ponds and Aquatics

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Click thumbnail
to view:

By tyler70006
Thumbnail #1 of Acorus calamus by tyler70006

By willmetge
Thumbnail #2 of Acorus calamus by willmetge

By Malus2006
Thumbnail #3 of Acorus calamus by Malus2006

Thumbnail #4 of Acorus calamus by RVWE


3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive TropicalDaveS On Dec 28, 2013, TropicalDaveS from Palm Aire, FL wrote:

My sweet flag has been growing well for over a year in a small pot sitting in a fountain, in partial sun, in Ft. Lauderdale. Snails have managed to feast on it more than once, but not only did it not mind, it barely seemed to notice. I can see that its vigor could be a drawback if not contained, but it is performing well in its setting here.

Positive Malus2006 On Nov 20, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

This is a rapid spreading plant. I suspect it have more dry tolerate as a clump grew fine in a small non draining pot put in the ground and get no extra water. Seem to have some shade tolerance. Nice to use in a pot in the pond but need to be cut every three years as it will overcrowd the pots and spread their rhizomes some distance beyond the pot.

Extra info May 2, 2008: I have success growing it as a cattail - like plant in woodland shade in a stream. It is smaller in woodland shade but more tame.

Neutral frostweed On Nov 16, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Sweet Flag, Acorus calamus, is native to Texas and other States.

Positive tyler70006 On May 5, 2006, tyler70006 from New Orleans, LA wrote:

This is the plant that Walt Whitman was referring to in his collection of poems "Leaves of Grass". He enjoyed eating the rhysome of the plant and it was said to be energizing. It was known as an american indian medicinal plant.

Leaves of Grass! The largest leaves of grass known! Calamus! Yes, that is Calamus! Profuse, rich, noble, upright, emotional!"

Neutral melody On Apr 7, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Information only, I do not grow this plant.

This plant grows in water and boggy, wet soils and has iris-like leaves. The flower cluster is an outward jutting finger shaped cluster of brownish-green. The fruit is a small berry with a gelatin-like texture.

Common along swamps, marshes, riverbanks, meadows and small streams throughout the east. The only places it can't be found is Florida and the Arctic.

The thick rhizomes were sometimes candied and this old-fashioned confection is called calamus. It has a distinctive odor and flavor.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Tampa, Florida
New Orleans, Louisiana
Mason, Michigan
Mattawan, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Frenchtown, New Jersey

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