What Is Vetiver Grass?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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Also known as vetiveria zizanioides, vetiver grass is a type of plant that is found in various parts of the world, including parts of Thailand. Considered native to India, this particular type of tropical plant is known for having an extremely durable root system. In addition to uses in various types of folk and alternative medicines, vetiver grass is also used in a number of countries to help slow the process of erosion along riverbanks and on hillsides.

The durable nature of vetiver grass makes it very useful in a number of applications. Typically, the grass grows in clumps and is anchored with a strong root system that allows it to collect nutrients even when placed in locations that cannot sustain other types of plant life. Able to resist both frost and exposure to extreme amounts of heat, the grass provides a simple means of cultivating hedges along a river bank or at strategic points on a hillside as a means of slowing the process of erosion due to wind or earth slides. Simple to cultivate and maintain, the grass gained a great deal of attention for these properties during the 20th century and is often considered a useful tool in land preservation.


In appearance, vitiver grass looks a lot like any other type of ornamental grass. The plant is distinguished by the presence of tall thin stems that are covered with equally thin leaves. Vitiver grass will also sometimes sport flowers that are a combination of brown and purple in color. In spite of the fact that the stems and leaves are very thin, the plant is extremely durable and able to flourish in a number of climates.

Unlike some other plants that have been used to slow the process of erosion, vetiver grass is relatively easy to control. By managing the cultivation properly, it is possible to create rows of the grass that help to hold the soil into place without concerns that the plant will begin to strangle other plant life in the immediate area. This characteristic has made the grass increasingly popular in a number of countries, as it allows for not only dealing with erosion issues but also for the inclusion of other decorative plants within the landscape.

Along with the qualities of being somewhat decorative and aiding in reducing the rate of erosion, the root of the vetiver grass is sometimes used in the preparation of folk remedies. The oil from the root is used in the preparation of various blends that are common to aromatherapy treatments. Both the leaves and the roots can be used in the preparation of a cream that is said to help clear up skin conditions. In some nations, extracts made from the plant are used to treat a number of diseases, including diabetes, gastrointestinal pain, and incontinence in the elderly.


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