(From the Arabic term kalam, or kele-mus). The stalk of any plant. See Caudex.
Calamus aromaticus. Sweet scented flag; also called diringa, jacerantatinga, acorus verus, typha aromatica, clava rugosa. It is the acorus calamus Lin. Sp. Plant. 463. Nat. order typhoides of Jussieu.
The names of calamus aromaticus and the acorus differ: the first is a stalk of an eastern reed, which is slender, hollow, white, and of a fragrant smell; it is also called calamus odoratus, and arundo Syriaca, but is probably only a variety of the acorus calamus, β. Lin. 463.
The sweet flag is a plant with long narrow pointed leaves, like those of the common iris, and of a bright green colour; they are divided by the longitudinal rib into two unequal proportions, one of which is smooth, the other transversely wrinkled; the flowers are imperfect, and stand thick together, forming an elegant spike; the root, which spreads obliquely under the surface of the earth, is long, crooked, full of joints, about an inch thick, somewhat flatted, externally of a greenish white colour, which changes in drying into a brownish yellow, internally white, and of a loose fungous texture. It is found in rivulets and marshy places in many parts of England and in Holland. The stalk dies in winter, but the root is perennial.
The dried roots are brought from the Levant, but those of our own growth are preferable. Dr. Alston says that this root is aromatic, stomachic, and carminative. As an aromatic, though not heating, like the spices, it promotes the fluid secretions, is of use in gangrenes, both internally and externally, agreeably stimulates, and produces a pleasant sensation in the mind. It has been deemed useful as a warm stomachic, and renders other bitters more grateful and carminative. It is recommended in vertigo proceeding from a weakened stomach, and has been said to have cured intermittent fevers after bark had failed: it seems to add to the efficacy of the bark, particularly where the stomach is in a torpid state. The aroma is fixed, and may be preserved many years. When fresh gathered, the scent is not agreeable, but somewhat like that of leeks; by drying, the alliaceous odour is lost. That which is sound, tough, and whitish within when broken, is best.
Water dissolves the bitter part of this root, and spirit the aroma. In distillation with water it sends up a very small portion of essential oil, leaving a nauseous bitter in the decoction.
More agreeable bitters supersede its use, but it is sometimes a substitute for gentian, and for other gently warm bitters.
Calamus aromaticus Asiaticus is the Asiatic sweet flag; acorus calamus verus, var. β. 436. It grows in both the Indies. Its root agrees in virtues with that of our own growth.
Calamus rotang; calamus rotang Lin. Sp. Pi. 463. See Sanguis draconis.
Calamus odoratus. See Calamus aromaticus.
Calamus scriptorius. A cavity of the brain, near, or in the fourth ventricle, is thus named because it resembles a quill.