Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) Nash

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Graminae

Synonyms

Andropogon zizanioides.

Common names

Khas-khas grass (Africa), vetiver (Europe), lacate violeta.

Description

Tall, stout perennial with an oblong panicle over 30 cm long which has whorled branches bearing spikelets 5-6 mm long, with a few tubercle-based short bristles (Napper, 1965). Under cultivation, the species does not flower (Chippendall, 1955).

Distribution

Throughout Africa, India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia.

Altitude range

300-1 250 m.

Rainfall requirements

500-5 000 mm in India.

Soil requirements

It will grow on sandy loams to clay soils, on strongly acid to slightly alkaline soils with a pH range from 4-7.5, but prefers neutral to slightly alkaline soils.

Tolerance to herbicides

In India it can be controlled with dalapon at 1117 kg/ha, or bromacil at 17-33 kg/ha (Ray, Agarawala & Fridrickson, 1975).

Response to defoliation

It stands very heavy grazing, especially in semi-arid areas of India.

Grazing management

It is usually burnt, and the tender regrowth grazed. The older leaves are too harsh for fodder (Gilliland et al., 1971).

Response to fire

Good.

Tolerance to flooding

Good; it occurs on poorly-drained lands.

Genetics and reproduction

2n=20 (Darlington & Janaki, 1945).

Economics

The aromatic roots are a source of vetiver oil, used chiefly in perfumery. In some Asian countries the roots are woven into coarse mats and hung in front of doors; they are moistened to cool and scent the air blowing through them (Chippendall, 1955). In India they have been used for matting to give fragrance to a room; they also yield a heavy essential oil, khas-khas or cuscus for perfumery. The roots are also used to provide an important ingredient in curry, khasu-khasu.

Value for erosion control

It has proved useful for erosion control on 20 slopes in India (Misra, Arnbasht & Singh, 1977) and is one of the most important soil- binding grasses in Fiji (Parham, 1955).

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