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Vetiver

Introduction
A member of the Gramineae family, the vetiver is native to the the South Asian region which includes India and Ceylon. The word "vetiver"is a Tamil word meaning "root that is dug up". Vetiveria zizanioides is the botanic term for the vetiver plant. Highly fragrant, it is known as khus in the northern and western parts of the country and it is also commonly known as khus khus. This perennial grass can grow to heights of upto 1.5 meters. It occurs in thick clumps and is characterized by the presence of a tall stem with leaves which are slender, long and rigid in structure. Highly adaptive, it is generally grown in the wild and has distinctive brownish purple flowers. In general, the grasses have a horizontally spreading fibrous root system but the roots of the vetiver grow downwards and extend upto 4 meters into the ground. Highly fragrant, the vetiver is related to other grasses like the lemon grass, citronella, and

palmarosa. It grows well in the tropics and is produced on a large scale in Haiti, India, Java, China, Brazil, Japan, and Réunion. The vetiver oil is produced through a process of steam distillation. Around 250 tons of oil are produced annually.
 
The vetiver possesses erosion controlling properties which makes it highly beneficial for areas with hot climates. It is a stabilizing hedge for stream banks, terraces, and rice paddies. The plant is easily controllable and non invasive in cultivation. It naturally grow near riverbanks

and requires hot and humid conditions to survive. It can survive in altitudes of upto 600 meters. The vetiver cannot flourish in the shade. It is adaptable to a variety of soils including acidic, sodic, alkaline or saline soils. With deep roots into the soil, this grass is drought resistant and can resist extreme heat or cold conditions. It tolerates the presence of heavy metals in the soil and is not much affected by it. The unique properties of vetiver enable the soil and moisture conservation as water is easily absorbed by the soil and increase the crop production. That is why it is grown in hedges. It is an effective vegetative soil conservation plant. Increased rain water percolation is enabled by these plants which tolerate any types of soils. The vetiver should ideally be planted during the rainy season.

 

Uses
Since the earliest times, the vetiver has been used in India. Old Tamil literature mentions the use of the vetiver. It has many uses in many spheres. It is used to make mats and fragrant screens. These special grasses were traditionally used to make the thatch, handicraft, fodder, baskets, fans, ornaments, window coverings and animal bedding. The aromatic essential oil is the main by-product of the vetiver. This is extracted through a process of steam distillation from the roots of the vetiver. The oil is used in high grade perfumes as it is reputed for its fixative industries. Incidentally, most perfumes in the West make use of this oil. It is used in Ayurvedic medicines and also as a scented oil. It has been noted for the medical properties in the regions of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and West Africa. The oil contains over 100 components. Aromatherapy also recognizes the therapeutic value of the

vetiver and its by-products. It associates the vetiver with peace of mind. The vertiver is also considered as an excellent aphrodisiac. It is also used as an insect repellent. Organic Vetiver can be placed in pouches where it functions as a masking agent. Vetiver blends well with citrus, the aphrodisiac oils like rose, jasmine, sandalwood, lavender and cinnamon
 

Vetiver Oil
The oil is obtained from roots which are at least 18 months old. These roots are dug up and cleaned and dried up. It is then chopped and placed in water and the distillation process is conducted which can take up to one day. Essential oil and hydrosol is separated and the oil is skimmed off and allowed to age for some time which removes the undesirable notes and the oil actually improves with age. The amber brown and thick vetiver oil is highly viscous in quality. The oils are deep, sweet, woody, earthy, amber, balsam in scent. Its scent has been described as a masculine and comforting scent .

 
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