Calamus (Acorus calamus)

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The European calamus (Acorus calamus) actually comes from East Asia, but as a so-called archaeophyte has been native to Central Europe since the end of the Middle Ages. It has its origin in the monastery and pharmacist gardens: Here, the marsh plant was cultivated as a medicinal plant against stomach problems, indigestion and loss of appetite. Its bitterness-rich rhizome - often mistakenly called calf root - also contains essential oils that promote blood flow and anticonvulsant. In Persia, the healing properties of marsh grass were described as early as the seventh century before Christ's birth. In the Spreewald, the husked, aromatic fragrant rhizome of the plant used to be sweetened as a condiment and also used to make a liqueur - because of its ginger and cardamom-like aroma it also bears the nickname "German ginger". The essential oils of calamus are now suspected of being carcinogenic and also have a slightly hallucinogenic effect. That is why European squid is now classified as a poisonous plant.

It is widespread throughout Europe and North America, but stocks are decreasing in many places, as the habitats, wet meadows and reed beds of lakes and rivers, threatened by drainage, are banked or suffer from widely fluctuating water levels.

The European calamus is about 80 to 100 centimeters high and has long and broad, fleshy leaves at the base, which expire in a fan-shaped arrangement of the lying flat on the ground rhizome. The long green flower bulbs appear from June to July and then turn brown, but usually do not form seeds.

Smaller and more delicate is the grass or dwarf calmus (Acorus gramineus). The narrow-leaved species also comes from Asia and is a maximum of 50 inches high. It can also handle less humid locations.

Calm (Acorus gramineus 'Ogon')

Calm (Acorus gramineus 'Ogon')


European calamus is used primarily for marsh beds and as a bank for garden ponds and streams. It combines well with other marsh plants such as sedges, hedgehogs, marsh sword lilies and marsh marigolds. In the wild Kalmus is used as a so-called reposition plant for renaturation measures. Since it can absorb a lot of nitrogen, it is also used for plant treatment plants. The ornamental form 'Variegatus' with white-margined leaves is not quite as vigorous as the wild species and therefore usually the better choice for the local water garden.

The grass-Kalmus is also used as a pond planting, but is also suitable for sufficiently moist garden beds in a sunny to half-shady position. The variety 'Ogon' with its green-yellow to green-white foliage is also a popular leaf ornamental plant for autumnally arranged planters.

Planting and care

Kalmus species are heat loving and prefer a sheltered, partially shaded location on wet to misty pond shores with water depths between 0 and 10 centimeters. They love nutrient-rich soils, but can also spread on these strong. In order to keep in particular the engaging nature of the European Kalmus it is best placed in baskets or plant bags with nutrient-poor Teicherde, from which its rhizomes can not escape. The best planting time is the spring.

Special care does not need Kalmus species. Since they are sensitive to frost, they are best cut back in the spring. On nutrient supplies of any kind you should refrain from using in or on the garden pond, but make sure that the water level does not fall too high in midsummer. If the swamp grass spreads too much, it is taken out of the planting basket in the spring and divided.


Calm can be multiplied by dividing the rhizomes in spring. The sowing of the wild species is also possible, but plays no role in practice, since only rarely germinable seed is formed.

Diseases and pests

All Kalmus species are extremely robust and rarely attacked by diseases or pests.

Video Board: Acorus Calamus and Acorus Gramineus.

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