This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
An elegant, sedge-like plant, very well adapted for introducing to the margins of lakes and streams of some size. It is indigenous to some parts of England, and has been introduced, but is not regarded as indigenous, to Scotland. It grows about 3 feet high, in tufted masses, and extends itself rapidly wherever the conditions are favourable to its existence, and is not, therefore, well adapted for introducing to small pieces of water, which it would soon overrun and choke up. The roots are highly aromatic, and in the dry state form the calamus of the shops, which, notwithstanding the plant is very abundant in the fen districts of England, is all imported from the Levant. The leaves are linear, bright green, and there is a good form with variegated leaves. They also are aromatic, and were used in districts and countries where the plant abounded for strewing the floors of dwellings in place of rushes, before advancing refinement introduced carpets into use. In Poland, even recently, it was usual for distinguished visitors to be received with a strewing of fresh calamus leaves.
The flowers are simply curious, in cylindrical greenish spikes, accompanied by a green spathe, which does not, however, enclose the spike.
A neat-growing tufted plant, with linear leaves, growing about 9 inches high. It is not so dependent on moisture as the last species, and may be grown successfully in any soil not subject to extremes of drought. There is a handsome variegated form, well worth a place in collections of hardy variegated plants. The flowers, like those of calamus, are greenish-yellow, and possess an interest only for the curious. The plant is a native of China and Japan, and my experience of its hardiness is limited to the district of London, where it is quite hardy. Both this and the preceding may be increased by division in autumn and spring.