Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag)
Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag) is an interesting perennial and one that is perfect for the bog garden. Its bright green, sword-like leaves grow from three to five feet tall in my pond, but I have seen Sweet Flag reach over six feet. The scented leaves and rhizomes of Sweet Flag have been used for thousands of years for just about everything: perfume making; wine making, particularly for absinthe; strewing on cathedral floors; medicinally, as a tonic and to cure digestive ailments, to name just two; and, allegedly, as a hallucinogen. It is believed that early Native Americans made a tea from the roots of Sweet Flag to ward off sore throats; they used the dried roots as a cure for runny noses; and they made a paste from the rhizomes for war paint. As for me, I just use Acorus calamus, or Sweet Flag, in my water garden because it makes such a lovely statement and a scented one, as well, and that's quite enough for me. Sun. Zones 2-9. Bare Root.
Acorus gramineus "Ogon" (Golden Variegated Sweet Flag)
I love this ornamental Sweet Flag from Japan and China because of its variegated golden and green (mostly golden) grass-like leaves that are fragrant when bruised. It really brightens a shady spot but serves other functions, too: borders, accents, containers submerged in water, containers not submerged at all, for erosion control, rock gardens, and en masse. It's easy to grow, too, in medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade and even heavy shade. It can also grow in boggy conditions, and that means standing water of several inches. Insignificant flowers appear in mid-summer. Take note: don't let this one dry out or the tips become brown. It's diminutive, growing from 6-12 inches high in Zones 5-10. (Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden and used with permission).