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Chrysopogon zizanioides - (L.) Roberty

Common Name Vetiver, Vetiver Root, Khus Khus
Family Poaceae
USDA hardiness 7-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Floodplains and the banks of streams and rivers[ 200 ]. Rich moist soils, often along water courses[ 454 ].
Range E. Asia - Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Chrysopogon zizanioides Vetiver, Vetiver Root, Khus Khus

Chrysopogon zizanioides Vetiver, Vetiver Root, Khus Khus


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A tropical grass about 2 - 5 m high, Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is characterized by its extensive root system that tends to grow deep up to 4 m or more. Because of such characteristic, it is commonly planted to prevent soil erosion in sloping areas. It is also highly tolerant to heavy metals found in the soil. The root yields high quality, woody, and heavy-scented essential oil which is used as a flavouring in canned asparagus and peas, fruit drinks, syrup sweets, etc. It is also used in making soaps, perfumery, cosmetics, deodorants, and other toiletries. The roots are used to make baskets, fans, mats, and cooling screens. Powdered roots show insecticidal properties. Stems and old leaves, on the other hand, are used as thatch or process into a coarse paper-pulp. Other Names: Akar wangi, Botha grass, Janur, Khas-khas, Khus-khus, Kusu-kusu, Larasetu, Larawastu, Nara setu, Nara wastu, Narawastu, Ramacham, Reshira, Sugandhimula, Usar, Vetiver Root, Vetiver.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Chrysopogon zizanioides is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1.8 m (6ft) by 1.8 m (6ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid, very alkaline and saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Agrostis verticillata Lam. Agrostis verticillata Vill. Anatherum muricatum (Retz.) P.Beauv. Anatheru

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil  Root
Edible Uses: Oil

Edible portion: Root - oil for flavouring. An essential oil obtained from the roots is used as a flavouring in sherbets, syrup sweets, fruit drinks and canned asparagus[ 46 , 301 ]. It is used in certain canned foods, such as asparagus and peas, to reinforce the natural odour and taste[ 310 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Anthelmintic  Antispasmodic  Carminative  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Emmenagogue  Refrigerant  Stimulant  
Stomachic  Tonic

The essential oil obtained from the roots is used medicinally as a carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, refrigerant, stomachic, tonic, antispasmodic and sudorific[ 310 ]. A stimulant drink is made from fresh rhizomes[ 310 ] The plants are used as an anthelmintic[ 310 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Basketry  Biomass  Cosmetic  Essential  Hedge  Insecticide  Oil  Paper  Soap making  Soil reclamation  Soil stabilization  Straw

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Agroforestry Uses: Unlike most grasses, which tend to have a more or less surface-rooting habit, the very dense root system of Vetiver has a strong tendency to grow downwards for 4 metres or more. This effectively anchors strips of plants and the soil behind them[ 310 ]. Traditionally, the plant is grown in southern India in strips as permanent field boundaries and occasionally in contour strips to control erosion, while in Java it is planted to protect sloping drains[ 310 ]. Its use as an erosion-control plant has spread throughout the tropics, but for a long time remained restricted to small areas. Recent interest started in Fiji, where it was grown in contour strips in sugar-cane plantations on steep slopes. Since the late 1980s, its planting for erosion control has been promoted strongly, not only around fields, but also to protect terraces and road shoulders[ 310 ]. Strips of densely packed, stiff and tough grass stems break the speed of run-off water and divide it evenly, reducing the risk of formation of run-off streams and gully erosion[ 310 ]. The plant is highly tolerant of heavy metals in the soil, including silver, cadmium, manganese and aluminium. In addition, it can grow in land where fuel has been spilt. Over a period of time it gradually accumulates these toxins which can then be removed by cutting the grass and the metals can be reclaimed[ 418 ]. Other Uses A high-quality essential oil, known as 'vetiver oil' is obtained from the root[ 46 , 200 , 310 ]. Its scent is heavy and woody[ 310 ]. It has a wide range of applications, being used is used in perfumery, cosmetics, deodorants, soaps and other toilet articles[ 46 , 200 , 310 ]. In perfumery, the essential oil and vetiveryl acetate, synthesized by acetylation of vetiver oil, are important fixatives for more volatile fragrance materials. The chemical stability of vetiver oil under alkaline conditions makes it a suitable scent compound for soaps[ 310 ]. The essential oil, and the roots, have insecticidal and insect-repellent properties about which little is known[ 310 ]. The roots are used for making baskets, mats, fans or 'pamaypay' in the Philippines and cooling screens named 'tatties' in India. These give a pleasant smell to a room, especially when dampened[ 46 , 200 , 310 , 454 ]. The dried roots, or sachets of powdered roots, are stored between clothes to give them a pleasant smell and to repel insects[ 310 ]. The stems and old leaves are an excellent, long lasting thatch and can be processed into a coarse paper-pulp[ 310 ]. Absorbs dissolved heavy metals from polluted water, tolerates As, Cd, Cr, Ni, Pb, Hg, Se and Zn.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest  Hedge

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Contour hedgerow  Industrial Crop: Biomass  Management: Hay  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop

A plant of the tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 2,500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 35°c, but can tolerate 12 - 45°c[ 418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -15°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 500 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 200 - 5,000mm[ 418 ]. Prefers a moisture-retentive soil in full sun[ 200 ]. Succeeds in a very wide range of soils, tolerating occasional waterlogging once established[ 418 ]. Plants are very tolerant of saline soils[ 418 ]. Prefers a Ph in the range 4.5 - 8, tolerating 3 - 9.9[ 418 ]. A yield of 1 - 5 tonnes of dried roots per hectare can be harvested annually, at an oil content of 0.7 - 2.5%, this produces 40 - 100 kilos of essential oil[ 418 ]. Tolerant to drought because of its deep roots, flood, and submergence.

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Contour hedgerow  Alley cropping systems on the contour of slopes.
  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Management: Hay  Cut to the ground and harvested annually. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed, Division.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides). Other Names: Akar wangi, Botha grass, Janur, Khas-khas, Khus-khus, Kusu-kusu, Larasetu, Larawastu, Nara setu, Nara wastu, Narawastu, Ramacham, Reshira, Sugandhimula, Usar, Vetiver Root, Vetiver.

Found In: Africa, Asia, Australia, Burma, East Africa, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malawi, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, SE Asia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, West Africa, West Indies, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(L.) Roberty

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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