Acorus 'Licorice'

Common name(s): Licorice Sweet Flag

Description: an evergreen perennial with extremely aromatic grass-like foliage that emits a scent reminiscent of sweet licorice when brushed. 

Height: to 10 in. Spread: to 3 ft.

Position: partial shade and consistently moist soil or as a houseplant.

Uses: ornamental, bonsai, seasoning, medicine

Winter Hardiness: to 0 F and below

Notes: We received this plant as a gift from a guest at one of our lectures in 1990. They told us it was used as a seasoning and to flavor rice water. We then propagated it and sent a clone to Holly Shimizu at the US Botanic Garden in 1993 who at the time identified it as A. gramineus. There is still taxonomic uncertainty in the genus and though morphologically (1) it seems most consistent with A. gramineus, the aromatic foliage and uses explained to us by the original donor seem to be more indicative of A. macrospadiceus.

1. Cheng, Zhuo et al. “From Folk Taxonomy to Species Confirmation of Acorus (Acoraceae): Evidences Based on Phylogenetic and Metabolomic Analyses.” Frontiers in plant science vol. 11 965. 24 Jun. 2020.