vetiver grass

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Peter Warne, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. Peter Warne

    Peter Warne Junior Member

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    A friend has given us a clump of vetiver grass which she says we can split into about 50 small plants. I have googled vetiver and got some idea of its amazing, miraculous and multitudinous capacities, both in the ground and after cropping.

    It seems it is ideal for making vegetal swales, since it stops water run-off and loss of soil in heavy rain, and eventually creates small terraces. My first question is in this area of using it for swales. How does it differ from lemon grass, and how should it be combined with lemon grass? We had deep rips cut more or less on contour through our food forest, and I have started planting the rips with lemon grass. Should we go for alternating strips of vetiver and lemon grass (there are 7 cuts, made about 18 months ago, which have remained as very low ridges, about 10 - 15 cm high) or should we alternate vg and lg plants in the same strip?

    The second question regards planting vg around the dam. I will put some in the spillway, which for a couple of months has been a steadily running stream fed by the bloated springs coming out on the uphill side of the dam. We already have a few lomandras planted there, but I will bung in a few vetiver as well - can't protect the spillway too much. Then, since the dam is fed by a whole strip of streaming, soggy ground across some 20 metres or so, I am thinking of planting this area and the wet bank below it with vetiver so as to clean the clay out of the water and make the dam less clayey, ie clean up the dam water. I am a bit worried about how much of the water source may be lost to transpiration, which in drier seasons may reduce the supply of water to the dam.

    Finally, how close should the little sections be planted? Very close to make an impenetrable wall, or space out a little so that the clumps will grow to fill the gaps. I usually plant lemon grass about every 30 cm to create a weed barrier. How does vg compare?

    Well that's a barrage of rambling questions. Hoping I'm not being too confusing, and that someone has some experience with this stuff.

    Peter
     
  2. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Vetiver grows taller than lemon grass. I would say to plant it about a foot apart, and within a year or so you will have clumps pretty close together.
     
  3. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    Vetiver, like Richard said, grows taller than lemon grass. They are in the same genus, but vetiver grows much deeper roots, up to 3-4 meters deep, in a radiating cone shape, which forms a real solid grip on the soil. It can grwo in one place without "migrating" or seeding for a long time. In india they say property boundaries planted out to vetiver are still there after 100 years, with no movement! It is harder to shade out than lemon grass, too, which is desirable for erosion control. It is also more tolerant of wet, saturated places than lemon grass.

    I have a few books about it, as well as a few plants, newly planted (Sept/Oct), so my experience is limited, but Don Thompson, the great guy who contacted me (through this forum :D ) has so much info on the plant that it is hard not to get chuffed up about the plant. He came down to give a talk on vetiver during the PDC here last month, and everyone was really grateful for the info he gave out. All the topical people were excited to plant some...
     
  4. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Peter,

    Towards the end of 2004 I was involved in a project that saw Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) being planted on the plains of south-western Victoria in an effort to mitigate flood damage. A local DSE (Vic. Dept. of Sustainabilty and Environment) officer was on hand to answer any queries, and when asked suggested that the 'slips' we were planting at 30cm intervals were 'sterile', were grown in northern NSW, but should tolerate a wide range of climates and conditions.

    I have not had the opportunity to return to this site to see how the Vetiver has performed to the set task of halting erosion. A quick 'google' of the DSE site uncovered nothing. However, a link you may find useful is as follows:

    https://www.greenharvest.com.au/Plants/vetiver_info.html

    Cheerio,

    Mark.
     
  5. Cornonthecob

    Cornonthecob Junior Member

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    If you plant the vetiver close enough you'll have a barrier that will stop cane toads!

    It also provides lots of mulch and/or material for composting.

    :)
     
  6. dewbee

    dewbee Junior Member

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    heavy metal pollution controller

    Vetiver grass also absorbs heavy metals into that root system and incorporates them into itself so resourcefully that it can then be fed to stock without fear of contamination... it is pretty good for reviving old tire dump sites, perhaps car wreck sites as well...
     
  7. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

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    Timely to see this thread revised as I just came back from collecting more vetiver from Don Thompson up in Caves Branch. I filled the pan of my hilux after half a day of exhausting work (digging vetiver is no easy task!).

    The vetiver planted late last year, towards the end of the rainy season, is pretty bushy and tall, and the soil is accumulating on the up hill sides of the rows of vetiver. We grew a black bean crop in one area between rows and followed this up with a crop of cowpea, and the vetiver has done really well!

    Corny, we have cane toads here, natives, so not invasive, and they do excellent duty eating insects (watched one eat a scorpion once, tail juking him in the face as the scorpion got swallowed.... What we need barriers for is leaf cutter ants, who do substantial damage to plants, especially citrus. I hear trhat lemon grass will finction as a barrier, and lemon grass and vetiver are in the same family, so maybe this will work.

    I also collected another species of lemon grass, which grows much taller and "wilder" looking than the lemon grass we have here....

    Its my understanding that cattle won't eat vetiver. Vetiver was brought into Belize as an anti-erosive, buy since cattle don't eat it, not many people were interested in pursuing it. Of all the places it was distributed to, only one farmer in all of Belize, Don Thompson, still has it. Don says that he has never seen anything eat vetiver.... but if anything will eat it, perhaps goats will, and we should be getting goats in the next month or so.... and intend to do mostly cut and carry forage, so will see if it works... If not, we will just grow it for mulch and for erosion control.
     
  8. Sonya

    Sonya Junior Member

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    We keep our vetiver trimmed and use the cuttings as mulch. It keeps us in good supply. As it gets older you will also find clumps of dried vetiver in the growing plant, there can just be pulled out by hand very easily and also used as mulch.

    Cheers
    Sonya.
     
  9. dewbee

    dewbee Junior Member

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    vetiver

    i didn't know about the stock not liking it... have to check up with my friend about that one... it could at least be used for mulch as lemon grass is a good mulcher.... i also heard that alfalfa has roots sometimes 90m deep... have to check up on that one too....
     
  10. marley

    marley Junior Member

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    Vetiver grass has been one of the most important plant tools at my dad's farm in Northwestern Costa Rica. I cant sing its praises enough!

    We use it to demarcate the contour lines and form living terraces. It also holds up the raised chinampa like beds that are nearly flooded in the rainy season. In some places it survives completely submerged for two or more months and once established it needs little water.

    My dad has finally found away to muclh the dry season vegetable beds by laying down cut vetiver like thatching a roof then pinning it down with bamboo poles. (I wish I had a picture!)
     
  11. Ojo

    Ojo Junior Member

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  12. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: vetiver grass


    Dr. Duke's
    Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases

    https://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/plants.html
    Chemicals and their Biological Activities in: Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) NASH (Poaceae) -- Cus-Cus, Cuscus Grass, Vetiver


    Chemicals

    (+)-KHUSITENE Plant:

    No activity reported.

    7:3-CADALENE Root:

    No activity reported.

    ALLO-KHUSINOL Plant:

    No activity reported.

    ALPHA-CALACORANE Root:

    No activity reported.

    ALPHA-ISOVETIVENENE Root:

    No activity reported.

    ALPHA-VETISPIRENE Root:

    No activity reported.

    ALPHA-VETIVENE Plant:

    No activity reported.

    ALPHA-VETIVENENE Plant:

    No activity reported.

    ALPHA-VETIVONE Root:

    No activity reported.

    ASH Leaf 53,000 - 90,000 ppm

    No activity reported.

    BENZOIC-ACID Root:

    Allergenic; Anesthetic; Antibacterial 33-1,250 ppm MBC=800 ug/ml; Antiotitic; Antipyretic; Antisalmonella MIC=800 ug/ml; Antiseptic 800 ug/ml; Antiyeast MFC=1,600 ug/ml; Choleretic; Expectorant; FLavor FEMA 250; Fungicide MFC=1,600 ug/ml; Insectifuge; Pesticide; Phytoalexin; Tyrosinase-Inhibitor ID50=640 uM ID50=710 uM; Uricosuric; Vulnerary

    BETA-ISOVETISPIRENE Root:

    No activity reported.

    BETA-VETISPIRINE Root:

    No activity reported.

    BETA-VETIVENE Root:

    No activity reported.

    BETA-VETIVENENE Root:

    No activity reported.

    BETA-VETIVONE Root:

    No activity reported.

    BHARATPUROL-I Root:

    No activity reported.

    BHARATPUROL-II Root:

    No activity reported.

    BICYCLODECENONE Plant:

    No activity reported.

    CADINA-7-11(12_OR_13)-DIENE Root:

    No activity reported.

    CADINA-9,11(12_OR_13)-DIENE Root:

    No activity reported.

    CADINANE Plant:

    No activity reported.

    CADINANE-SESQUITERPENES
     
  13. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Mark, did you ever get back to check this out?

    I'm interested to hear form people who have been growing vetiver here in Oz for some time. Has anyone seen any evidence of it displaying any invasive or undesirable traits?
     
  14. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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  15. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Grahame

    No. It was while I was undertaking some volunteering with CVA and I was rather lax in keeping records around that time, so I'm not even sure if I could find the property (near Penshurst?) today. However, what I have been able to find is an older, longitudinal study (from Q'land) that shows some amazing results. The key to reducing (eliminating?) the invasive nature of Vetiver spp. is, apparently, to plant only those cultivars that are deemed to be sterile. I hope the above helps, Grahame.

    Cheerio, Mark.
     
  16. cottager

    cottager Junior Member

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    Just a quick sidetrack ... if you are into distilling, vertiver root distilled into the essential oil is VERY popular with soap makers (for it's base-note/fixative perfume).

    Maybe a use for the escapies? ;)
     
  17. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Bugs seem to help too!
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081031102053.htm
    also
    [​IMG]
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110408101924.htm
     
  18. cottager

    cottager Junior Member

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    That would explain why Vertiver essential oil is one of the very few essential oils that actually improve (in terms of the quality and depth of the perfume) as it ages.

    Gotta love 'dem bugs ;)
     
  19. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Excellent. Thanks for all the info everyone.
     

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