Weed Potential of Vetiver Grass

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Vetiver grass cultivars originating in southern India are known for their large and strong root systems. They do not produce viable seed and will not become an invasive plant in their new environment. These cultivars have to be established vegetatively by root subdivisions since they do not produce stolons or rhizomes that could cause lateral spread.

The north Indian accessions, common to the Ganges and Indus basins, are wild and have weaker root systems. These accessions are diploids and are known to be weedy, though not necessarily invasive. These north Indian accessions are NOT recommended under the Vetiver System as a method of soil and water conservation.

The ideal cultivar in the USA is known as “Sunshine” and has been widely used in all southern states, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. A cultivar of the same genotype, the “Monto”, is extensively used in Australia.

The question about Vetiver's potential invasiveness always comes up when a new project is planned. We at Agriflora Tropicals have been working with Vetiver in Puerto Rico for over 15 years, and we use it extensively in our own farm to control erosion problems and we have never seen any evidence of invasive behavior from our Sunshine cultivar. Our experience confirms this evidence from the PIER (Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk) Risk Assessment that Vetiver grass has a very low risk factor of minus 8. Even the most stringent countries will allow imports of plants with a plus 1 risk assessment.

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