Monday, May 25, 2015

The Herb Cottage Newsletter May 2015

MAY 2015
VETIVER- Grass of Many Uses 

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Vetiver Grass, Chrysopogon zizanioides, is a tropical, clumping-type grass grown for many uses. I acquainted myself with this plant some years ago. It has quite an amazing story.

Vetiver is a member of the same part of the grass family as maize, sorghum, sugar cane and lemongrass. It is an ancient plant that has been grown around the world for centuries, with great benefit .

A native of India, Vetiver has had a long history. The name comes from "vetiver," a Tamil word meaning "root that is dug up." The zizanioides was given by Linnaeus in 1771 and means "by the riverside." As you would guess, the native habitat of this grass is in low, damp sites such as swamps and bogs. In spite of that, the grass is now being used on dry hillsides to control erosion.

Vetiver Grass on hillside

And by the sea.

Vetiver system

Vetiver is a clumping type grass, completely non-invasive. It does not produce viable seed, so there is no seeding out as with some other grasses.

The reason Vetiver works so well for erosion control is it produces a massive root system that grows straight down rather than out from the plant. It creates a sort of curtain beneath the soil, trapping sediment and slowing down the movement of water. Because the grass grows down instead of outward, it does not become invasive. The roots are very deep, so it's best to decide carefully where to plant it because it is very hard to dig up.

Vetiver root

The above-ground plant looks much like pampas grass or lemon grass. It is a big, coarse clumping grass that can grow to be very tall. It provides a considerable amount of biomass that can be used for mulching or composting. 
Mature Vetiver Planting

A method of fermenting the harvested grass has been found to make an excellent medium for growing mushrooms.
Vetiver is used as a wind break or to trap soil and sediment from washing away on terraced agricultural plantings as well as bare hillsides. Vetiver Grass used in farming
Notice the Vetiver Grass between the rows of vegetables, above. The Vetiver will keep the soil from washing away from the roots of the cash crop.

Vetiver Grass used as mulch

Vetiver Grass can be harvested for mulch.
Other Uses for Vetiver
Vetiver grown in a container for a lovely effect. Keep it pruned to a desired height for maximum visual impact. (Use the cut offs for mulch!)

Vetiver Grass- ornamental use
The roots of Vetiver have an exquisite and long lasting scent that some liken to the aroma of sandalwood. Leaves of the plant are almost odorless, unless damp.

An open bowl of dried vetiver root can give off a most pleasing aroma for a very long time.

The roots of the plant have been used for centuries as a source of essential oil that makes a wonderful perfume. It is also used for scenting soaps and other cosmetics.
In many areas of the world, the grass is used for thatching roofs and making consumer products.

Vetiver sandals

Vetiver hat

Vetiver thatched roof

Vetiver Root Products
Products from Bali made with aromatic Vetiver Root.

There are myriad more uses for Vetiver Grass. It is used as animal forage at a certain stage of growth. Floating rafts of the grass can be added to ponds to clean water from agricultural runoff, from concentrated animal enclosures, even sewage.

Vetiver Pontoons
Floating pontoons keep water clean

Vetiver cleans water

One last interesting feature of Vetiver is how it recovers from fire.

Vetiver after fire

Vetiver after fire


All the pictures in the current article are taken from

You can purchase Vetiver Grass from The Herb Cottage here.

As if all this information isn't enough, Vetiver is also used for health and healing. Stay tuned for the JUNE NEWSLETTER:
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The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.

-Sigmund Freud, neurologist, founder of psychoanalysis (1856-1939) 

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Until Next Time,
Good Growing to You,
Cindy Meredith, proprietor
The Herb Cottage
442 CR 233
Hallettsville, TX 77964
phone & fax: 979-562-2153, cell: 361-258-1192

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