Khus (Vetiver)

Chrysopogon zizanioides, commonly known as vetiver is a perennial grass of the Poaceae family, native to India. In western and northern India, it is popularly known as khus. Vetiver can grow up to 1.5 meters high and form clumps as wide. The stems are tall and the leaves are long, thin, and rather rigid; the flowers are brownish-purple. Unlike most grasses, which form horizontally spreading, mat-like root systems, vetiver's roots grow downward, 2–4 m in depth. Vetiver is most closely related to Sorghum but shares many morphological characteristics with other fragrant grasses, such as lemongrass, citronella and palmarosa. Though it originates in India, vetiver is widely cultivated in the tropical regions of the world. The world's major producers include Haiti, India, Java, and Reunion.

The most commonly used commercial genotypes of vetiver are sterile (do not produce fertile seeds), and because vetiver propagates itself by small offsets instead of underground stolons, these genotypes are noninvasive and can easily be controlled by cultivation of the soil at the boundary of the hedge. However, care must be taken, because fertile genotypes of vetiver have become invasive. Vegetative propagated, almost all vetiver grown worldwide for perfumery, agriculture, and bioengineering has been shown by DNA fingerprinting to be essentially the same no fertile cultigens (called 'Sunshine' in the United States, after the town of Sunshine, Louisiana).

As mulch, vetiver is used for weed control in coffee, cocoa and tea plantations. It builds a barrier in the form of a thick mat. When the mulch breaks down, soil organic matter is built up and additional nutrients for crops become available.

The leaves of vetiver are a useful byproduct to feed cattle, goats, sheep and horses. The nutritional content depends on season, growth stage and soil fertility. Under most climates, nutritional values and yields are best if vetiver is cut every 1–3 months.

Benefit & Uses: Vetiver grass is grown for many different purposes. The plant helps to stabilize oil and protects it against erosion, but it can also protect fields against pests and weeds. Vetiver has favorable qualities for animal feed. From the roots, oil is extracted and used for cosmetics and aromatherapy. Due to its fibrous properties, the plant can also be used for handicrafts, ropes and more.

Khus is a boon for farmers in warm climates, as it prevents soil erosion. As the plant grows exclusively downward, it helps to block the runoff of surface water and conserves soil. Hence, it is used to create boundaries for rice paddies. The fragrant essential oil obtained from the plant root is quite famous throughout the world. It is used in high-end perfumes, for its fixative properties.

The mats made from khus plant are hung in the house, to cool rooms during summer. Moreover, they even add a pleasant aroma in the house, when sprinkled with water occasionally. The herb is tied in a muslin cloth and added to the earthen pots filled with water, to lend its distinctive flavor and aroma to it. It has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects that provide relief from inflammations in circulatory system and nervous system. Khus is used to create a tonic bath, which is the reason why it is often included in high quality soaps. In addition, it finds an application in combat lice as well. It is a boon for individuals suffering from rheumatism, arthritis, gout, muscular aches, dryness and cracking of skin etc. The oil obtained from khus has sedative effect and aids in the treatment of emotional outbursts, such as anger, anxiety, epileptic and hysteric attacks, restlessness, nervousness, etc.

 

It is mainly used in Perfumery and aromatherapy applications. It also has excellent fixative properties making them used widely in high end perfumes. Further, it is also used in traditional medicines as well as for adding a pleasant aroma in the house which is commonly described as "cool" and "refreshing".

 

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