Dec. 3, 2017

sweetflag, Acorus americanus

In days of yore, sweetflag was a familiar plant. The leaves and root were much used for flavoring and medicine. The spike of many tiny flowers grows from the side of a leaf that is about three feet tall. As modern flavorings and medicine have become available, use of sweetflag has waned. This is a good thing. The American species is a fertile diploid that is now taxonomically separate from the sterile Eurasian species. The Eurasian species are now known to be carcinogenic. They have been introduced to America, and are not easy to reliably identify. Besides, you have to wade around in shallow water or mud to get to them. Overall, they're probably more snail friendly than human friendly. Sweetflag grows in AK, CT, DE, IA, ID, IL, IN, MA, ME, MI, MN, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA(E), RI, SD, VA, VT, WA, WI, AB, BC, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, and SK. Plants in other localities are probably the Eurasian introductions, which also grow in most of these localities. Lenawee Co MI, 6/16/11.