Acorus calamus L.

Last updated: 25 May 2016

Scientific Name

Acorus calamus L.


Acorus angustatus Raf., Acorus angustifolius Schott, Acorus aromaticus Gilib. [Invalid], Acorus belangeri Schott, Acorus calamus-aromaticus Clairv., Acorus casia Bertol., Acorus commersonii Schott, Acorus commutatus Schott, Acorus elatus Salisb., Acorus europaeus Dumort., Acorus flexuosus Raf., Acorus floridanus Raf., Acorus griffithii Schott, Acorus nilghirensis Schott, Acorus odoratus Lam., Acorus terrestris Spreng., Acorus undulatus Stokes, Acorus verus (L.) Raf., Acorus verus Garsault [Invalid], Calamus aromaticus Garsault [Invalid]. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Jerangau, deringu, jerangoh (Peninsular) [2]
English Sweet flag, sweet root, calamus [2]
Indonesia Daringo (Sundanese); dringo (Javanese); jerango (Sumatra) [2]
Thailand Kha chiang chee (Northern); wan nam (Central); haang khaao phaa (Chiang Mai) [2]
Laos Hang khao nam [2]
Philippines Lubigan (Tagalog, Bisaya); acoro (Spanish); daraw (Iloko) [2]
Vietnam Th[ur]y x [uw] [ow]ng b[oof], x[uw][ow]ng b[oof], b[oof] b[oof] n[ees]p [2]
Papua New Guinea Lepe (Angi, Enga); eseue (Mendi, Southern Highlands); wamala (Aroma, Central Province) [2]
France Calamus, acore odorant, acore vrai [2].

Geographical Distributions

Acorus calamus is probably native to China and India. Its use as a medicinal plant dates back to Egypt, Greek and Roman times. A. calamus was distributed from its native range by rhizomes through trade and commerce, and arrived in Europe in the 16th Century. In the Malesian region, it is considered as naturalized and not truly wild. It is found in many parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea and locally in the Philippines (Bontoc and Benguet Provinces), and outside Malesia in Indo-China and Thailand. It is also cultivated here and there. [2]

Botanical Description

A. calamus is a member of the family Acoraceae. It is a perennial hairless herb that can reach up to 150 cm tall. It has creeping rhizome. It is extensively branched, up to 3 cm in diametre. The herb is pale yellow to pinkish-brown on the outside and whitish but sometimes slightly pinkish on the inside. The upper surface is marked with large V-shaped leaf-scars and longitudinally furrowed. The surface beneath has circular pitted scars of rootlets arranged in irregular lines. [2]

The leaves are aromatic, erect, linear-ensiform with obliquely acuminate apex, often characteristically corrugated at one side in the upper part, with distinct midrib and numerous thin parallel veins. It is glossy green but often reddish towards base. [2]

The 3-merous bisexual flowers are densely arranged on the spike. The 2-3 mm long narrowly oblong tepals are free, 6 in 2 whorls. The 3 mm long stamens are 6 and free, with strap shaped filaments and orbicular-elliptical anthers dehiscent by a longitudinal slit. The ovary is superior, subquadrangular, 2-3-celled with sessile stigma. It is sub-conical. [2]

The fruit is a 2-3-celled berry, turbinate and prismatic with pyramidal top, few-seeded and reddish. [2]

The seeds are ellipsoid. [2]


A. calamus is a component of semi-aquatic habitats, usually in eutrophic locations. It can be a vigorous invader of new sites. In Malesia, it is found along ditches, pools, fish-ponds and marshes, and is sometimes cultivated. In Java, it is found up to 2100 m altitude. A. calamus can be planted on clayey loams and light alluvial soils. [2]

Chemical Constituent

A. calamus  has been reported to contain acolamone, acoradin, acoragermacrone, acoramone, acorenol, acoric acid, acorine, acorone, acoroxide, asaraldehyde, asaronaldehyde, asarone, β-asarone (isoasarone), azulene, calamene, calameone, calamenol, calamenone, calamol, camphene, camphor, choline, cineole, dextrin, dextrose, dimethylamine, eugenol, n-heptylic acid, isoacolamone, isoacarone, linaIol, methylamine, methyleugenol, palmitic acid, pasarone, pinene, trimethylamine, aristolene, asarones (2,4,5-trimethoxypropenylbenzenes), cis-asarone, trans-asarone, c-asarone, asaryllaldehyde, (-)-cadala-1,4,9-triene(sesquiterpenic hydrocarbon), d--cadinene, calacone, calacorene, calamine, (+)-calamusenone, calarene,(-)-β-curcumene, 2,3-dihydro-4,5,7-trimethoxy-1-ethyl-2-methyl-3-(2,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)indene, β-elemene, epishyobunone, epoxyisoacoragermacrone, galangin, guaiene, isocaespitol, isocalamenediol, isocalamusenone, isoshyobunone, preisocalamenediol, shyobunone, mixed fatty acids (arachidonic, linoleic, myristic, oleic, palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic), sesquiterpene, sitosteroI, sugars (fructose, glucose, maltose), thymol, 2,4,5--trimethoxybenzaldehyde, Z-3-(2,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)-2-propenel, asarone, calamenol, calamene, calameone, methyleugenol, eugenol, acorin & acoretin, mucilage, resins, and tannins. [3][4]

Plant Part Used

No documentation.

Traditional Use

No documentation.

Preclinical Data


Antiproliferative and immunosuppressive activity

Ethanol extract of A. calamus rhizomes showed anticellular and immunomodulatory properties by inhibited the proliferation of mitogen and antigen-stimulated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). The extract also inhibited the growth of several cell lines of mouse and human origin. [6]

Hypolipidemic activity

Ethanol extract (50%) of A. calamus rhizomes (100 and 200 mg/kg) and its isolated compound namely saponins (10 mg/kg) administrated to male adult albino rats (180–200 g) demonstrated significant hypolipidemic activity. [7]

Central nervous system activity

Ethanol extract of A. calamus rhizomes showed a large number of actions comparable to its active principle α-asarone when screened for CNS effects using a battery of 20 tests in rats and mice such as protection against pentylenetetrazol-induced convulsions, significantly reduced aggressive behaviour in isolated mice, etc. [8]


A. calamus is considered unsafe for human consumption due to the fact that massive doses given to rats over extended time periods has proven to be carcinogenic. [8]

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of A. calamus [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Acorus calamus L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 25]. Available from:
  2. van Dzu N. Acorus calamus L. In: de Padua LS, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 1999; p. 81-85.
  3. Duke JA. Handbook of medicinal herbs. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 1988.
  4. Goh SH, Chuah CH, Mok JSL, Soepadmo E. Malaysian medicinal plants for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Selangor; Pelanduk Publication Sdn Bhd: 1995.
  5. Malaysian Monograph Committee. Malaysian herbal monograph. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, 2009; p. 5
  6. Mehrotra S, Mishra KP, Maurya R, et al. Anticellular and immunosuppressive properties of ethanolic extract of Acarus calamus rhizome. Inter. Immunopharmacology. 2003;3(1):53-61.
  7. Parab RS, Mengi SA. Hypilipidernic activity of Acarus calamus L. in rats. Fitoterapia. 2002;73(6):451-455.
  8. Vohora SB, Shah SA, Dandiya PC.Central nervous system studies on an ethanol extract of Acorus calamus rhizomes. J Ethnopharmacol. 1990;28(1):53-62.