Vetiver- Grass of Many Uses, Part 2

Monthly Feature, JUNE 2015

May’s Monthly Feature Article was on the environmental, landscape and household uses of Vetiver Grass. 

This month I thought I’d cover the health benefits of Vetiver Grass. 

mature_vetiver_plantVetiver Grass essential oil (EO) has been used for centuries by various societies for its pain releiving properties, it’s calming aroma and its cooling aspect, among other benefits. In the Ayurveda healing system of India, Vetiver EO plays a prominent role in the practice. The oil is said to be uplifting, calming, soothing and healing.

The fragrance is deep, woody and earthy. It is added to many cosmetic preparations, especially ones designed specifically for men. In the Middle Ages it was used in combination with lime and rosewood. Today, Vetiver EO can be found in many, many perfumed or scented products in our Western world.

Below are some of the specific modern uses and benefits of Vetiver EO.

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Vetiver- Grass of Many Uses

Vetiver Grass, Chrysopogon zizanioides, is a tropical, clumping-type grass grown for many uses. I acquainted myself with this plant some years ago. It has quite an amazing story.

Vetiver is a member of the same part of the grass family as maize, sorghum, sugar cane and lemongrass. It is an ancient plant that has been grown around the world for centuries, with great benefit . 

A native of India, Vetiver has had a long history. The name comes from “vetiver,” a Tamil word meaning “root that is dug up.” The zizanioides was given by Linnaeus in 1771 and means “by the riverside.” As you would guess, the native habitat of this grass is in low, damp sites such as swamps and bogs. In spite of that, the grass is now being used on dry hillsides to control erosion.

Vetiver rows on hillside
Vetiver rows on hillside

And by the Sea

Vetiver has great salt tolerance.
Vetiver has great salt tolerance.















Vetiver is a clumping type grass, completely non-invasive. It does not produce viable seed, so there is no seeding out as with some other grasses.

The reason Vetiver works so well for erosion control is it produces a massive root system that grows straight down rather than out from the plant. It creates a sort of curtain beneath the soil, trapping sediment and slowing down the movement of water. Because the grass grows down instead of outward, it does not become invasive. The roots are very deep, so it’s best to decide carefully where to plant it because it is very hard to dig up.

Vetiver roots go straight down to hold soil in place.
Vetiver roots go straight down to hold soil in place.

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