What is Vetiver Grass?

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Vetiver grass is the key element in a low cost and efficient system, used in nearly 100 countries, for soil and water conservation, infrastructure stabilization, pollution control, waste water treatment, mitigation and rehabilitation, sediment control, prevention of storm damage and many other environmental protection applications (through bioengineering and phytoremediation).

This grass is the main component to all
Vetiver System bioengineering and conservation applications. The plant is unique. It can be used in the tropics and semi tropics, and areas that have a Mediterranean type climate where there are hot summers, and winters are temperate.

The cultivated variety of
Vetiveria zizanioides, with its center of origin in southern India, has hydrophytic characteristics, but thrives under upland non-wetland conditions.

The very basis of
The Vetiver System (VS) is that when Vetiver grass is planted as a hedgerow across a slope, it forms a very dense barrier that slows down and spreads rainfall runoff. Pretty simple!!! Then combine this with a very deep and strong root system (average tensile strength of 75 Mpa), a wide range of pH tolerance from about pH 3 to pH 11, a high tolerance to most heavy metals, an ability to remove from soil and water large quantities of excess nitrates, phosphates and farm chemicals, and an attribute of sterility and non-invasiveness, we have a plant that, with some modifications to its application, can be used for soil and water conservation, engineered construction site stabilization, pollution control (constructed wetlands), and most other uses where soil and water come together.

The species of
Vetiveria zizanioides, that is promoted for VS applications originates in south India, is non-fertile, non-invasive, and has to be propagated by clump subdivision. In 1999, however, there was a change of the generic name of Vetiver into Chrysopogon. This has given rise to a new scientific name of Vetiver as Chrysopogon zizanioides (L.) Roberty.

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