Vetiver: A Cool Blessing in Hot Summer
About Vetiver Plant:
The scientific name of Vetiver is Chrysopogon zizanioides belonging to family Poaceae (grass family). In India, Vetiver is commonly known as ‘Khus.’ Vetiver is one of those multipurpose grasses that are economically and ecologically important.
Vetiver is a bunch-grass that can grow up to 5 feet tall. Leaves are long and linear with sharp margins. Flowers appear in brownish purple inflorescence. Vetiver plant has finely structured and powerful rooting system which grows downwards in soil even up to 13 feet deep. Roots of vetiver are most useful part of the plant as they contain aromatic essential oils.
How to Grow Vetiver:
Vetiver is a hardy plant that can tolerate extreme conditions like poor soil, drought, deep water flow and waterlogging. Therefore it is also suitable for planting in infertile soil, barren lands, and open fields which are otherwise not used for cultivation of regular crops.
Because of the enormous rooting system, Vetiver is not grown in pots and containers. The plant is exclusively grown on the open sunny ground in sandy-loam soil. Propagation is done by a division of offsets from old plants. In India, the plantation is done in June.
An older plant is entirely uprooted before summers to harvest Vetiver roots. Essential oil is extracted from plant roots by steam distillation method. Fresh roots are also used for their medicinal properties. Dry roots are used to prepare various summer-friendly products.
Plantation for Soil and Water Conservation:
Vetiver plant can protect the soil and water from erosion. Therefore it is planted at the edge of farmlands, river banks, and small ponds. Vetiver roots also hold on to the flowing water, thus reducing its surface runoff and helping water to percolate in the ground. It is also planted to loosen the highly compacted soil.
Uses of Vetiver in Summer:
- According to Ayurveda, Vetiver has sweet, fresh, soothing and pleasant properties. It is used to prepare Khus syrup and Khus oil. In Indian markets, vetiver is also available in the form of aromatic fibrous roots.
- In summers, a bunch of fresh Vetiver roots is put in the earthen pot (Matka) to keep household drinking water cool and fragrant. This water is very useful to cure urinary disorders that may occur in summers.
- Khus syrup is a trendy summer cold drink in South Asia. This dark green syrup with woody flavour reduces burning in the stomach that occurs in summers due to ‘Pitta.’ It is also used to flavour Lassi, milkshakes, yogurt and icecreams.
- Vetiver is used to cure summer-related skin diseases. Fresh Vetiver roots are added to daily bathing water to get rid of sun rashes.
- Vetiver oil is used in various herbal skin care products like soap, face wash and other creams. It is used for its antiseptic properties to treat acne and sores.
- In perfumes, Vetiver essential oil is a significant ingredient present in 90% of western perfumes. In India, it is famous as ‘Khus attar,’ a traditionally concentrated perfume primarily used by men.
- Vetiver in a cooler: In India, instead of straw or wood, dry roots of Vetiver are used in evaporative coolers. Vetiver root padding also counters the odour caused due to the growth of algae and microorganisms in such coolers
- Vetiver curtains: Mats made by weaving vetiver roots and binding them with ropes or cords are used in India to cool rooms in a house during summer. The mats are typically hung in doorways, windows as curtains. These are kept moist by spraying with water periodically; they cool the passing air, as well as emit a fresh aroma.
- Vetiver hat: Wearing a hat or cap made from Vetiver fibre protects from the harsh and direct sunlight. Little water is sprinkled on these hats before wearing in the afternoon sun, as it is capable of shielding one from sunstroke. Read about how to protect plants in Summer?
- Apart from these, Vetiver is also used for crop protection in agriculture. Vetiver roots are insect and pest repellents. Vetiver grass is excellent fodder for farmyard animals. Vetiver root fibre is also added to construction material.
Read More About Top 10 Garden Plants That Soak up the Summer Sun.