Posted by Cultural Elements on August 26, 2014
Vetiver is the root of Chrysopogon zizanioides, a perennial grass which gets its name from the south Indian language, Tamil (veti=cut, ver=root). Besides its place of origin in India, Vetiver is extensively grown in Indonesia, Haiti, Brazil, China and Reunion.
Unlike the fibrous, horizontally-spreading root systems common to most grasses, vetiver roots grow fairly deep to about 2-4 m. They produce an essential oil that is extensively used in perfume manufacture and aromatherapy. Vetiver oil has a deeply soothing quality and is valued for its earthy, yet elusive scent.
Vetiver has an amazing variety of practical uses. It is called the ‘moth root’ – sachets of the powdered root are placed in Indian muslin to repel moths and insects. During summer in the north Indian plains, blinds and awnings made of khus – another name for vetiver – are sprinkled with water, allowing for cooled, scented air to circulate through houses. A vetiver sachet in an earthen pot of drinking water imparts a deliciously “cool” flavour and aroma.
In Java (Indonesia), vetiver is woven into mats for thatching roofs. Vetiver lends itself to a host of household items that combine utility with beauty, like place mats, fans, runners and baskets. In agriculture, vetiver finds excellent use as an erosion control system. Vetiver Network International, a non-governmental organisation has pioneered the Vetiver System, a soil and water conservation method, which utilizes vetiver as a natural barrier to slow down water runoff, hedge paddy fields, treat waste water and control pollution.
In aromatherapy, the soothing oil is used to treat stress, exhaustion and disorders of the central nervous system. Traditional medicine systems use vetiver to balance female hormones during menopause. Generally speaking, vetiver is believed to have tremendous revitalizing and restorative properties. It is also a beauty aid that helps retain skin elasticity.