خس خس (Vetiver)

خس خس Vetiverخس خس Vetiverخس خس Vetiver
lat. Vetiveria Zizanoid
Other names: vetivert, khus
Group: Woods and Mosses
Vetiver Vetiveria Zizanoid
Vetiver Vetiveria Zizanoid
Vetiver Vetiveria Zizanoid
Odor profile: Essence from the Eastern Asian weed grass Vetiveria zizanoid that falls under the woods category thanks to its musty, dry, woody scent with bitter chocolate ...

خس خس (Vetiver)

خس خس Vetiverخس خس Vetiverخس خس Vetiver
lat. Vetiveria Zizanoid
Other names: vetivert, khus
Group: Woods and Mosses
Vetiver Vetiveria Zizanoid
Vetiver Vetiveria Zizanoid
Vetiver Vetiveria Zizanoid
Odor profile: Essence from the Eastern Asian weed grass Vetiveria zizanoid that falls under the woods category thanks to its musty, dry, woody scent with bitter chocolate and smoke facets. Very popular in niche perfumery and masculine fragrances. The reference vetivers are Carven's, Givenchy's and Guerlain's classic renditions.


The best features of vetiver, the aromatic verdancy, the fragrant rootiness, the subtle, refreshing citrusiness, the enjoyable earthiness, a wonderful hint of woodiness, and a certain Guerlainesque leathery-ambery darkness in the drydown. Vetiver oil is obtained by steam distillation of roots of vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides). The oil is one of the finest oriental perfumes with a persistent fragrance. In blended perfumes oil of vetiver acts as an excellent fixatives for volatile compounds. It is known for its cooling properties.


A commercially large population of Khas (Vetiver) grass grows in wet and damp environments over marshy places and riverbanks. The plant has a unique characteristic of being xerophyte (tolerates prolonged drought) but it survive under long seasonal flooding; it tolerates extreme temperature and grows over a wide range of soil pH. The grass grows luxuriantly in areas with an annual rainfall of 800 -2000 mm and temperature ranging from 22 to 400 C. Marshy riverbeds with sandy loam are best suited for this grass.

Common name: Vetiver
Botanical Name – Vetiveria zizanioides
Family: Gramineae / Poaceae

This family is known as the grass and the nutritious family. It is so named because the plant members are grasses and the plants are known for their ability to provide nutrients to the soil.

               Other common names

Akar Wangi - fragrant root - name used in Java, Khus Khus – aromatic root - name used in India, Oil of tranquility - name used in Sri Lanka.

Vetiver is a tall (1.5-2.0 m) perennial grass. It has a small stout rhizomatous stolen which gives rise to spongy, fibrous, dense roots system. Roots have aromatic properties and grow 20-30 cm deep in medium textured marginal soils under cultivation. Tremendous diversity exists with respect to pattern of growth, orientation and thickness of roots, as well as for occurrence of secondary roots. The bast region of root is the source of essential oil. The leaves are linear, narrow, erect, grassy, keeled with glabrous joint scabrid margins. Inflorescence is a panicle, up to 15-45 cm long, bearing numerous racemes in whorl on a central axis. The lower spikelets are reduced to lamena.

The upper spikelets are narrow, acute, appressed, awnless, green, grey or purplish in colour, 4-6 mm long, arranged in pairs. One floret in spike is sessile and bisexual; this bisexual floret has a glabrous callus, 3 stamens and 2 plumose stigmas. The other floret is pedicelled and staminate. Java vetiver is non flowering type has broader leaves (1.1 mm), medium thick stems, bushy growth bearing flowers with high pollen sterility; the plants give out more branching roots with higher oil content and the oil is dextro-rotatory in nature.


Vetiver has a long and rich history. In India it has been used to make blinds necessary to keep out the intense heat. When the blinds are sprinkled with water they emit the vetiver scent. In Java the root has been used for centuries in weaving mats and thatching huts. The Vetiver root is used in folk magic for its purported ability to provide safety and increase financial resources. A ritual designed to promote personal safety calls for inhaling Vetiver while visualizing one’s body as being sealed off from negative energies.


Vetiver is native to South India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. It is also cultivated in Reunion, the Philippines, the Comoro Islands, Japan, West Africa and South America. The oil is mainly produced in Java, Haiti and Reunion.


In World market the demand for vetiver oil is increasing day by day due to its unique odour, for which it is used in both flavour and fragrance industries. Moreover, this oil cannot be substituted with reconstituted oil and cannot be made through synthetically. Vetiver perfumes give pleasing aroma and has slow evaporation rate. Pure vetiver (Khus) root oil known in trade as “Ruh – Khus” and its use in scents since ancient time. Vetiver oil is the basis of the Indian perfume ‘Majmua’ and is the major ingredient in some 36% of all western perfumes (e.g. Caleche, Chanel No. 5, Dioressence, Parure, Opium ) and 20% of all men’s fragrances.

Its complex chemical composition and oil odour, high solubility in alcohol that improves its miscibility with other perfumery material, makes it a unique perfumery resource for which no synthetic substitute is yet available. In addition to its own perfumery value on account of vetiver hydrocarbons compounds and carbonyl compounds, their alcohol derivatives i.e. vetiverols lend unique position to vetiver oil for perfumery applications as a valuable resource. Also, vetiverol could be acetylated with acetic anhydride to produce vetiveryl acetate.

Both vetiverols and acetates have softer odours and fixative qualities, and are used as blender with high-class perfumery products. They blend well with ionone, linalool, cinnamic alcohol, oakmoss, vanila, sandalwood, patchouli and rose bases, and are frequently used in western type of fragrances having chypre, fougere, rose, violet and amber aldehyde base, and oriental fragrances and floral compounds.

In addition to its direct perfumery applications, vetiver oil in its diluted form is extensively used in after-shave lotions, air freshners and bathing purposes, as well as flavoring syrups, ice cream, cosmetic and food preservation. Khus essence is used in cool drinks, and for reducing pungency of chewing tobacco preparations, providing sweet note to other masticatories and incense sticks.


Vetiver oil is used in perfumery, cosmetics and soaps and for flavouring sherbets (Indian cool drinks).

Dried roots are also used to perfume the linen cloths.

The roots have been used for making screens, mats, hand fans and baskets. The screens are hung like curtains in the houses and when sprinkled water, impart a fragrant coolness to the air; they are in great demand during the summer.

For desert coolers in summer in North India.
Roots for preparing Sherbet or soft drink during summer, especially in North India.

Images of vetiver: wikipedia, treesftf


Author: Dr. Chandra Shekhar Gupta

Senior Research Fellow
Plant Quarantine Division
National Bearue of Plant Genetic Resources
Pusa Campus, New Delhi


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