have also been used as a thatch for roofs. Food and Flavouring: An essential oil from the rhizome is used in perfumery and as food flavouring, it has a fragrance reminiscent of patchouli oil. An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used in perfumery and for making aromatic vinegars. Insect repellent: The essential oil is also an insect repellent and insecticide. It is effe c t i ve a ga i n st houseflies. When added to rice being stored in granaries it has significantly reduced loss caused by insect damage because the oil in the root has sterilized the male rice weevils. All parts of plant can be dried and used to repel insects or to scent linen cupboards. Incense: The leaves and the roots have refreshing scent of cinnamon. They can also be burnt as incense.
Medicine: In Ayurvedic system of medicine, the rhizomes of Sweet flag are considered to possess anti-spasmodic, carminative and anthelmintic properties and have been used for a number of beneficial reasons. Vacha is considered as a sattvic herb which feeds and transmutes the sexual kundalini energy. It is forms a popular remedy for cough and cold and also the other respiratory disorders like bronchitis. In raw form it is used as cough lozenge. Sweet flag provides aid to the digestive system and acts against flatulent colic, dyspepsia, and vomiting. Acorus calamus depresses central nervous system and is a well known ingredient in formulation for psycho-somatic disorders like epilepsy. The vapours of Sweet flag repel some insects.
Sweet flag is a perennial, semi-aquatic and smelly plant, found in both temperate and sub temperate zones. It is up to 2m tall, aromatic, sword-shaped leaves and small, yellow/green flowers with branched rhizome. Plants very rarely flower or set fruit, but when they do, the flowers are 3-8 cm long, cylindrical in shape, greenish brown and covered in a multitude of rounded spikes. The fruits are small and berry-like, containing few seeds.
Its a hardy plant found growing from tropical to sub-tropical climates. Plenty of sunshine should be available to the plant during its growth and after harvesting for drying the rhizomes. This species comes up well in clayey loams, sandy loams and light alluvial soils of river banks. The land should be ploughed twice or thrice prior to the onset of rains. Acorus is propagated through rhizomes obtained from earlier planting. The best time for planting is the second fortnight of June.
The river or canal bank where the land is saturated with water is very suitable for its growth. Timely weeding and hoeing to control the spread of weeds and to obtain good yield is essential. After each weeding the growing plants are pressed down into the soil. After 6-8 months, in December, the lower leaves turn yellow and dry indicating their maturity. The field should be partially dried only leaving sufficient moisture for uprooting the plant. The uprooted rhizome is cleaned after washing with water and cut into size and fibrous roots removed. The cut rhizomes are dried by spreading under the shade so that the amount of oil present in it is not harmed.
TRADE AND COMMERCE
Sweet flag has been an item of trade in many cultures for thousands of years. Sweet flag forms a useful adjunct to other tonics and stimulants. Its domestic demand is quite large. As the production is much less in India, the internal market itself is highly potential. Importers, buyers within the country, processors, traditional practitioners, Ayurvedic and Siddha drug manufacturers throng the markets for procurement of this plant every year.