Calamus, also called sweet flag, is identical to the Greek "kalamos" meaning reed. Its leaves, which are reminiscent of those of irises, are however distinguished by their delicate smell and their brown tint at the bottom. Anciently used by the inhabitants of India and Japan as a medicinal plant, calamus was not known to the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans except as an exotic import. The first introduction to Europe dates from the 16th century. From there, the calamus spread throughout Europe. Very fragrant, calamus root is also widely recognised as an aromatic component used in the production of alcoholic beverages.
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