Sweet Flag
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Sweet Flag
ative Photo: Aishwarya Mehendale
Common name: Sweet Flag, calamus, flagroot, sweet cane, sweet grass, sweetroot, sweet rush • Hindi: बच Bach, घोरबच Ghorbach, सफ़ेद बच Safed bach • Manipuri: ꯑꯣꯛꯍꯤꯗꯥꯛ ওকহিদাক Okhidak • Marathi: Vekhand • Tamil: Vashambu, pullai-valathi • Malayalam: vaembu, vashampa • Kannada: ಬಜೆ Baje, ವಚ Vacha, ಅತಿಬಜೆ Athibaje, ಕವಣ Kavana, ದಗಡೆ Dagaḍe, ನಾರುಬೇರು Naaruberu • Bengali: bach, ghorabach • Assamese: bach • Mizo: hnim-rimtui • Sanskrit: वचा Vachaa Bacha, Bhadra, वाच Vacha • Nepali: बोझो Bojho
Botanical name: Acorus calamus    Family: Araceae (Arum family)

Sweet Flag is a perennial herb 1-4 ft tall, consisting of tufts of basal leaves that emerge directly from a spreading rootstock. These basal leaves are erect and sword-shaped, resembling Iris leaves. They are flattened, smooth along the margins, and have parallel veins. There is often an off-center ridge/indentation along the length of each leaf. Sometimes the base of the leaves or their margins are slightly red. The inflorescence is a cylindrical spadix that is about 2–4 inches in length and semi-erect. This spadix is covered with tiny greenish yellow flowers in a diamond- shaped pattern. Each flower has 6 tepals and 6 stamens. The covering spathe, which is found in many plants of the same family, is absent here. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about a month. Both the crushed foliage and rootstocks have a pleasant aromatic fragrance. The root system consists of shallow branching rhizomes that are stout and knobby. Tufts of basal leaves occur at intervals along these rhizomes, while coarse fibrous roots develop below. This plant multiplies by its rhizomes. Sweet Flag is found in the Himalayas, at altitudes of 100-2300 m and Western Ghats. Flowering: March-May.
Medicinal uses: The rhizome of Sweet Flag is very pungent and bitter in taste. It helps to promote memory, longevity and good voice.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Maharashtra & Delhi.

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