Botanical Name :Chrysopogon zizanioides
Species: C. zizanioides
Synonyms: Vetiveria zizanioides, Phalaris, Anatherum zizanioides,Andropogon odoratus,Andropogon zizanioides.Phalaris zizanioides,Vetiveria zizanioides
Common Name : Vetiver Grass,khus(In western and northern India, it is popularly known as khus.)
Habitat :Vetiver Grass is native to India.Though it originates in India, vetiver grass is widely cultivated in the tropical regions of the world. The world’s major producers include Haiti, India, Java, and Réunion.
Vetiver Grass is a perennial evergreen grass of the Poaceae family.The grass has a gregarious habit and grows in bunches.
Vetiver grass can grow up to 1.5 metres high and form clumps as wide. The stems are tall and the leaves are long, thin, and rather rigid. It has infrequent blooming time. The flowers are brownish-purple. Unlike most grasses, which form horizontally spreading, mat-like root systems, vetiver’s roots grow downward, 2–4 m in depth. Shoots growing from the underground crown make the plant frost- and fire-resistant, and allow it to survive heavy grazing pressure. The leaves can become up to 120–150 cm long and 0.8 cm wide. The panicles are 15–30 centimeters long and have whorled, 2.5–5.0 centimeters long branches. The spikelets are in pairs, and there are three stamens.
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The plant stems are erect and stiff. They can persist deep water flow. Under clear water, the plant can survive up to two months.
The root system of vetiver is finely structured and very strong. It can grow 3–4 m deep within the first year. Vetiver has no stolons nor rhizomes. Because of all these characteristics, the vetiver plant is highly drought-tolerant and can help to protect soil against sheet erosion. In case of sediment deposition, new roots can grow out of buried nodes.
Vetiver is most closely related to Sorghum but shares many morphological characteristics with other fragrant grasses, such as lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), citronella (Cymbopogon nardus, C. winterianus), and palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii).The most commonly used commercial genotypes of vetiver are sterile (do not produce fertile seeds), and because vetiver propagates itself by small offsets instead of underground stolons, these genotypes are noninvasive and can easily be controlled by cultivation of the soil at the boundary of the hedge. However, care must be taken, because fertile genotypes of vetiver have become invasive. Vegetatively propagated, almost all vetiver grown worldwide for perfumery, agriculture, and bioengineering has been shown by DNA fingerprinting to be essentially the same nonfertile cultigen (called ‘Sunshine’ in the United States, after the town of Sunshine, Louisiana).
Vetiver grass is used as a flavoring agent, usually through khus syrup. Khus syrup is made by adding khus essence to sugar, water and citric acid syrup. Khus Essence is a dark green thick syrup made from the roots of khus grass(vetiver grass). It has a woodsy taste and a scent prominent to khus.
click to see:Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) essential oil in a clear glass vial
The syrup is used to flavor milkshakes and yogurt drinks like lassi, but can also be used in ice creams, mixed beverages like Shirley Temples and as a dessert topping. Khus syrup does not need to be refrigerated, although khus flavored products may need to be.
Vetiver grass has been used in traditional medicine in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and West Africa.Old Tamil literature mentions the use of vetiver for medical purposes.
Vetiver grass is grown for many different purposes. The plant helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion, but it can also protect fields against pests and weeds. Vetiver has favourable qualities for animal feed. From the roots, oil is extracted and used for cosmetics and aromatherapy. Due to its fibrous properties, the plant can also be used for handicrafts, ropes and more.
Soil and water conservation:
Several aspects of vetiver make it an excellent erosion control plant in warmer climates. Unlike most grasses, it does not form a horizontal mat of roots; rather, the roots grow almost exclusively downward, 2–4 m, which is deeper than some tree roots. This makes vetiver an excellent stabilizing hedge for stream banks, terraces, and rice paddies, and protects soil from sheet erosion. The roots bind to the soil, therefore it can not dislodge. Vetiver has also been used to stabilize railway cuttings/embankments in geologically challenging situations in an attempt to prevent mudslides and rockfalls, the Konkan railway in Western India being an example. The plant also penetrates and loosens compacted soils.
Runoff mitigation and water conservation:
The close-growing culms also help to block the runoff of surface water. It slows water’s flow velocity and thus increases the amount absorbed by the soil (infiltration). It can withstand a flow velocity up to 5 metres per second (16 ft/s).
Vetiver mulch increases water infiltration and reduces evaporation, thus protects soil moisture under hot and dry conditions. The mulch also protects against splash erosion.
Vetiver can be used for crop protection. It attracts pests, such as the stem borer (Chilo partellus), which lay their eggs preferably on vetiver. Due to the hairy architecture of vetiver, the larvae can not move on the leaves, fall to the ground and die.
As a mulch, vetiver is used for weed control in coffee, cocoa and tea plantations. It builds a barrier in the form of a thick mat. When the mulch breaks down, soil organic matter is built up and additional nutrients for crops become available.
The leaves of vetiver are a useful byproduct to feed cattle, goats, sheep and horses. The nutritional content depends on season, growth stage and soil fertility. Under most climates, nutritional values and yields are best if vetiver is cut every 1–3 months.
In the Indian Subcontinent, khus (vetiver roots) is often used to replace the straw or wood shaving pads in evaporative coolers. When cool water runs for months over wood shavings in evaporative cooler padding, they tend to accumulate algae, bacteria and other microorganisms. This causes the cooler to emit a fishy or seaweed smell into the house. Vetiver root padding counteracts this smell. A cheaper alternative is to add vetiver cooler perfume or even pure khus attar to the tank. Another advantage is that they do not catch fire as easily as dry wood shavings.
Mats made by weaving vetiver roots and binding them with ropes or cords are used in India to cool rooms in a house during summer. The mats are typically hung in a doorway and kept moist by spraying with water periodically; they cool the passing air, as well as emitting a refreshing aroma.
In the hot summer months in India, sometimes a muslin sachet of vetiver roots is tossed into the earthen pot that keeps a household’s drinking water cool. Like a bouquet garni, the bundle lends distinctive flavor and aroma to the water. Khus-scented syrups are also sold.
A recent study found the plant is capable of growing in fuel-contaminated soil. In addition, the study discovered the plant is also able to clean the soil, so in the end, it is almost fuel-free.
Vetiver grass is used as roof thatch (it lasts longer than other materials), mud brick-making for housing construction (such bricks have lower thermal conductivity), strings and ropes and ornamentals (for the light purple flowers).
Garlands made of vettiver grass is used to adorn The dancing god nataraja in the Hindu temples.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider