Talk:Acorus calamus

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large removal of content[edit]

On Aug 18th a large section of this page was removed by user:JoJan, containing information on chemistry, usage, cultural symbolism and the etymology of the word calamus. The edit summary was: "editing". The common name 'calamus' also seems to have been removed. I restored the information for now, and added some other common English names for this species, but please explain if there is a good reason for not identifying this plant with the word "calamus", or if there was any problem with the other information. Cheers, ntennis 01:28, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

this plant has got its Nepali name as bojo. In nepal, traditional farmers have been using it from centuries as an insecticide. scientists have detected its active ingredient as beta asarone. i myself is now involved in a research on its insecticidal property. i would be very greatful, if you kindly add any of the information about the insecticidal property of the plat. thanks yogen;Central campus of food technologhy, Dharan , nepal

"probably native to India, it is now found.." suggests that the plant is not native to other areas, but that it was introduced elsewhere, whereas it is in fact indigenous to many areas around the world including North America" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:13, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Calamus as a hallucinogen[edit]

I would like to comment in response to a Wikipedian making the claim that acorus calamus is a hallucinagen comparable to LSD.

At various times acorus calamus has been cited as being a hallucinogen (entheogen). This is simply an urban legend. Calamus, which is related to the cattail plant, has different strains. The Indian Jamu strain contains beta-asarone which was isolated and fed to lab mice in very massive doses over a prolonged period of time. Although this was a component that occurs in only one strain of calamus (and was an isolated concentrate used in massive doses) the FDA now claims calamus is a possible carcinogen.[1] This same component is also the same substance some claim to be a hallucinogen. This urban reputation is based solely on two pages of a book written by Hoffer and Osmund entitled "The Hallucinogens." Virtually everything you ever hear quoted comes from these two pages. The information on these two pages came from anecdotal reports from a couple of people ( a husband and wife) who told them that they used it a few times (hardly reputable sources). The statement in this book was highly misleading and very overstated. Acorus Calmus is NOT hallucinogenic. Those who do continue to claim it has psychoactive properties say that the effects are "very subtle," "hard to put your finger on," "most people will not even notice it," and that "countless people say it has no effect."[2] A very good description of a placebo effect. It has also been been said that "if you're looking for a cheap legal buzz, something to party with, then calamus is not for you. Calamus takes time, and effort with very subtle results. It also may not do anything for you the first time or the second time or possibly ever. It doesn't work for everyone, and for those it does it is fickle."[3] An even better description of a placebo. Another source who thinks he may have experienced some subtle effects says that the massive doses taken resulted in a bout of violent regurgitation. I have yet to find anyone who experienced a hallucinogenic trip of any sort or even experienced a "high" feeling. Except for the anecdotal reports of a couple of people who used calamus a couple of times, which was written about in a couple of pages, there exists zero proof that acorus calamus is hallucinogenic.

[1] [2] [3]

CWatchman (talk) 15:50, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Isn't this the English Wikipedia?[edit]

The first sentence in the lead reads:

Acorus calamus, commonly known as Sweet Flag or Calamus (Sanskrit: हैमवती Haimavati, वचा Vacha, Bhutanashini, Jatil; Hindi: Bajai, Gora-bach, Vasa Bach; Marathi: Vekhand; Tamil: Vashambu; Telugu: Vadaja, వస Vasa; Kannada: ಬಜೆ; Malayalam: വയമ്പ്‌ Vayambu) and erroneously as "rush" or "sedges",[3] is a plant from the Acoraceae family, in the genus Acorus.

The sentence is ridiculously long and clumsy and this is the English Wikipedia after all - do we really need all these names from Indian cultures? I intend to remove them all unless someone has a good reason why they should stay. Richerman (talk) 22:11, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

Someone searching for a plant by other than its english name would find these names usefull. I agree the sentence is too long, and that this is often the case with such attempts to be inclusive; this can be fixed without deleting the other names.
Perhaps it warrants an alternatives name section, as I began on this page Phyllanthus_emblica. Trev M   01:33, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm sure they would but wikipedia isn't a foreign language guide. Does that mean we going to have the names from every language in the world? That would make for a very long section and I really don't see the point. As I said, this is the English wikipedia - there are wikipedias in other languages so if you want to know the name in another language you just need to clink on the link for that language on the left hand side of the article and you will be taken to an article in the relevant language. We don't try to cover the name of the subject of an article in every language in other articles and I don't think we should try to - IMHO we should only give alternative English names. Richerman (talk) 16:13, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
I've added back the non-english common names in a separate "Names" section. These names have been reported in a reliable academic source, showing their notability, and I've put them here exactly as the source does. These names can be helpful for English speaking people visiting a foreign country and knowing what it's called there, and also for English speaking people returning from a foreign land and wondering what that plant's scientific name is by searching Wikipedia. I've also moved most of the english common names to the Names section, since many of them are really not very common, and having an unending list of common names in the lead gets too unwieldy. First Light (talk) 17:09, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
Excellent point, but it's not only important travelers from countries where English is the mother tongue of the majority of the population. English is a global language, but people who are fluent in English as a second language may not know any common names of English etymology for the plants that grow in their country. For example, there are many people who speak English in India who are likely to search for information on plants by the common name in their primary language (and there is a lot of English language content on the web (e.g. recipes) about plants where a non-English name is used). Ultimately, as Wikis in other languages grow, and interwiki links are established, non-English common names will be less important, but at present, they are helpful. Plantdrew (talk) 19:17, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks - I was thinking of adding that point also, but couldn't think of a way to say it plain english (even though english is my first language). In fact, I've seen websites that are obviously speaking to Indians who speak Enlgish using these english translations of the Indian plant name. It may be why more and more reliable sources are starting to include English translations of common names. First Light (talk) 20:09, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

Hmm... Some caveats. 1. The Journal of Medicinal Plants Research can't exactly be called an apogee of reliable or academic, let alone notable. 2. Why only names from India? Why not names from (other) important languages such as Russian, Japanese, French, Chinese, Indonesian, Persian, Spanish, Arabic, ect... Or if it is from a good source, why not Basque? Gaelic? Xhosa? Upper Sorbian? There are better sources for these languages out there than the unreferenced work of Balakumbahan et al. 3. These are not really the common names in any of the languages listed, but the badly transliterated approximations, for example, according to the Molesworth dictionary of Marathi (admittedly 1857) रोमश वेखंड (sweet flag) should be transliterated as 'rōmaśa vēkhaṇḍa'. Considering the questionably rendered transliteration, it may be difficult for speakers of foreign languages looking up stuff to actually find the article. The 'e' in 'vēkhaṇḍa' might easily be rendered as 'ee', 'ie' or 'i'. 4. Unani is the word for Greek (where it is called Άκορος, Κάλαμος, Καλαμιά) in most Indian languages, yet the authors likely mean the unani medical tradition as having adapted from and after the Muslim invasions on the Indian subcontinent... It is unclear which language the name used refers to (not Arabic nor Persian)? 5. Sanskrit is a dead language, if the reason to include names in other languages is for use of travellers otherwise speakers of foreign tongues who happen to prefer to look stuff up in English, then what is the point of a language no one actually speaks. We could also add Ancient Egyptian, Coptic, Assyrian, Old Norse, Latin, various forms of Ancient Greek, Hittite, Thracian, Sumerian, Akkadian, Amorite... 6. You know, in the left column there are already interwiki links leading to names in other languages, including all but three of the Indian languages listed here, even Sanskrit. Leo Breman (talk) 02:47, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Those are good points. About the poor citations, I'd hope that those could potentially improve with time as editors find better sources. About the transliteration problem I don't think we should take all those variants out. As mentioned, e.g., for article titles, it is considered desirable to add redirects for all alternative names. We seem to currently have quite a backlog of material that might turn out to be a basis for real encyclopedic content, but has been added to the pages without adequate citations and is not yet fully incorporated to the extent of having the redirects in place. Taking it out would, I believe, be an invitation for it or poorer quality variants of the same information to be added back. About Sanskrit, it is closely linked with Ayurvedic medicine, which probably explains why it has been added in such profusion on plant pages. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 14:27, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
A random look at a couple of the Asian names showed that there are English language—but geared toward Asians—websites using some of those names. So I think it will be helpful to some readers to have at least some of those names. Some of the countless English/American common names seem very rarely used, but again if there are people somewhere who use those names, then I think they should be included. At least that's my opinion, one that I'm not wedded to very strongly. My feeling is based on my bias towards always putting the reader's needs first, including addressing the needs of even the rare or occasional English-as-a-second-language reader. First Light (talk) 02:11, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Right, as most people here seem to be in favour of keeping the Indian names I had a look at them and found trusted dictionary references for them. There are some differences between the Balakumbahan transcriptions and what is found in dictionaries. Also two languages have complications: Sanskrit I continue to advise removing in entirety, according to the three most comprehensive lexicons out there Acorus is never mentioned in the extant texts, the only references to Sanskrit names for Acorus are found in modern lexicons in local languages without references to (known) existing texts. The other problematic language is Tamil, Tamil is an ancient language with a high degree of disglossia and is furthermore diverse, with 'high' literal and poetic forms and diverse vernaculars. The official transcriptions as found in dictionaries do not correspond to what is usually found in texts found on internet, i.e. வசம்பு officially transliterated 'vacampu' in the dictionary, but may be pronounced as 'vasambu' or 'vashambu' as previously found in this article. There are even poetic forms which can only be used in specific circumstances. As I do not speak Tamil I find this complicated. Leo Breman (talk) 16:41, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Move request[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was not moved. --BDD (talk) 18:38, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Acorus calamusSweet flag – According to the intro paragraph (and common sense), the common name for this flower is not "Acorus calamus" but rather "sweet flag", and as per WP:COMMONNAME this should be its article name. Xiaphias (talk) 23:18, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose Most plants have a number of common names, so the convention is, as with many other publications, that they are listed unambiguously under their scientific name. The common names are then dealt with by redirects. See: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (flora) Richerman (talk) 10:28, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Many Acorus species share the name sweet flag. Note that WP:COMMONNAME does not say to use the botanical "common name" but uses that phrase in the sense of "commonly recognizable name." Because this plant has so many common names, and because the proposed page move name is shared by many other plants, "sweet flag" is not precise, and is all too "common" (in the sense of "widely used"). First Light (talk) 14:11, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:COMMONNAME and WP:FLORA - the most commonly used name for this article's subject in reliable sources is Acorus calamus. WP:GHITS support this in Books and Scholar. Rkitko (talk) 22:10, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
However, this is the English language Wikipedia so why do we need the name in 8 Asian languages? We don't list all the names in other languages of the world, nor would I see any point in doing so. Richerman (talk) 06:19, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
Because English language reliable sources use those names. I daresay that some of the 20+ English "common" names are less used than some of the English translations of those foreign language names, both in reliable sources and on the internet. As I explained in more depth above, it also helps to serve some readers of Wikipedia. First Light (talk) 15:47, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose, per arguments above. Acorus americanus was only recently recognized as a distinct species. Somebody calling Acorus calamus "sweet flag" 30 years ago would've intended a concept that covers both species. Taxonomic splits of species indistinguishable to the layman shouldn't change the vernacular name the layman uses to refer to the similar plants. Plantdrew (talk) 19:22, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

stuff I'd like to change[edit]

  • 1. The texts found below the names section seems largely copied verbatim from these websites/articles: Also the references in those texts seem to just have been copied into this text. It seems the tenor of the article as such is to ridicule the FDA decisions regarding the carcinogenic properties and to disparage the dangers associated with ingesting the plant. I would like to make it more neutral.

  • 2. Furthermore different parts of the text ('uses') could be put under the same header. The modern research should be taken out of the traditional uses and put under a new header.
  • 3. The headers are rather haphazard. Shouldn't names and etymology go under a single header in the beginning, followed by botanical info (perhaps split into subsections), followed by chemistry, followed by uses and cultural stuff, with the FDA regulations last?
  • 4. Redundancy, esp. regarding cytotypes.
  • 5. Native American uses. These things are copied from one of the above websites/articles. Shouldn't they be moved to the Acorus americanus wikipedia article? Frankly I think that article should be eliminated -considering this form as a separate species is no longer current thinking and to be honest, Thompson's analysis is flawed in a number of ways (the same can be said for the Govaerts' analysis at Kew).
  • 6. mistakes or inaccuracies: the stuff on adipogenesis refers to alpha-asarone in the sources, not beta-asarone. The stuff on Ancient Egypt as copied from the above (unreferenced) websites/articles does not conform with the fairly authoritative books on Ancient Egyptian botany I have here.
  • 7. I'd like a small section on cultivars and horticulture.
  • 8. I'd like to organise the uses by history -first Ancient Egypt, then the Greek texts, then the bible (?), then Arab sources, then medieval Europe. Referenced Chinese or Indian uses would go in at the appropriate age.
  • 9. I recommend curtailing the polemic under the regulations section to just the regulations. For one it is copied ad verbatim from one of the above websites/articles, and also the argument expressed can be contested (it doesn't matter if it is a procarcinogen or not, the point is what effect it has within the body (cigarettes aren't carcinogenic until you smoke them), likewise it doesn't matter what the main metabolite is -what matters is how powerful the carcinogenic metabolite is (again the cigarette analogy), furthermore it seems that some forms of the diploid may indeed contain some beta-asarone according to some studies).

Please tell me what y'all think before I start chopping.Leo Breman (talk) 17:20, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

You've been doing some good work here and these are good suggestions. Absolutely get rid/rephrase of anything copied verbatim; we don't want copyrighted content here (WP:COPYVIO). I'm not opposed to treating Acorus americanus as a variety, and merging anything useful in that article back into this one. American taxonomists seem to mostly be treating it as a species, but it's certainly not settled, and that takes care of the Native American uses (which are pretty much all cited as A. calamus anyway). You might want to take a look at Wikipedia:WikiProject Plants/Template for some suggestions about section names and article format; you don't have to follow this exactly though (there was some recent discussion about the suggested format; having a separate Chemistry section is good, and although there wasn't any consensus about what to call the sections, separate sections for traditional medicinal use and modern clinical research would be an excellent way to go). Plantdrew (talk) 19:34, 8 July 2013 (UTC)


How can a plant only introduced to Britain in the 'late 16th century' be used to scent mediaeval houses? (talk) 01:02, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

Good point. The practice of using rushes or straw as a floor covering had been carried out since then, but clearly not with A. Calamus. I've removed the word medieval. Richerman (talk) 09:18, 6 June 2015 (UTC)