Is it Vetiveria or Chrysopogon?

Monday, November 3, 2008

A frequent source of confusion among users of Vetiver grass is finding some documents and references giving the plant’s scientific name as Vetiveria zizanioides and others using the name Chrysopogon zizanioides. They are one and the same.

For over a century Vetiver had been known as Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) Nash. The letter L. in brackets referring to Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist that got the science of taxonomy started as an organized way to classify plant and animal names. Between 1903 and 1906, Nash and Stapf settled on Vetiveria zizanioides as the proper classification of Vetiver.

In 1999 a Dutch plant taxonomist named J. F. Veldkamp confirmed that there were no significant morphological differences between the genus Chrysopogon and the genus Vetiveria. Since the name Chrysopogon had been used first, and based on the principle of botanical priority, Veldkamp reluctantly renamed all the grasses in the Vetiveria genus into Chrysopogon.

Given the extensive bibliography of literature that refers to Vetiver as Vetiveria zizanioides, that name will continue to be widely used. The common name, Vetiver, derived from a Tamil (India) word meaning “the grass that is dug out”, is not endangered and will be used by all the educational and commercial sites for Vetiver grass.

When searching the web for Vetiver information, searching for “vetiver grass” will exclude links to perfumes, oils, and musical groups.


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