Alternate names are khus, kus-kus, and cuscus. The name Vetiveria is derived from vettiveri, the word for the plant in S India., which in turn came from the Dravidian word “root”.

Botany: Vetiveria zizanzinoides is extremely useful, large, coarse grass. It is grown mainly in Haiti, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Reunion, and Vietnam for essential oil, and in many parts of the world to control erosion, as the roots grow straight down for 3m. The culms or tillers arise from aromatic rhizomes, are erect, and up to eight feet tall. The tillers are strong and stiff. The tops are evergreen and pale green. The leaves are narrow, erect, keeled, and the margins are rough to the touch. The rhizomes are short and the roots are stout, strong, spongy, and aromatic. The root system is massive, but quite compact and only grows out about 60 cm on each side of the plant. The part of the plant used is the root to produce Vetiver root oil.

History and/or folklore: An essential oil of vetiver grass roots has been known in India since ancient times and considered a high-class perfume. Copper plate inscriptions have been found that list the perfume as one of the articles used by royalty. Vetiver oil is one of the ingredients in Chanel No. 5. The famous French perfume was introduced in 1921 and is still in production. The annual world trade in vetiver oil is estimated to be approximately 250 tons with Brazil, China, Haiti, India, Japan, Java, and Reunion being the main producers. Europe, India, Japan, and the United States are the main consumers. Vetiver oil is contained in 90% of all western perfumes and its greatest use is in modern perfume creations.

Vetiveria zizanzinoides essential oil: Vetiver roots are rich in volatile oil, known as “oil of tranquillity” in India and Sri Lanka. It has a heavy and woody-earthy aroma. It is a complex oil, containing over 100 identified components, including the sesquiterpene, α vetivone, β-vetivone and khusimol, the main fragrant components.


Vetiveria zizanzinoides essential oil
Externally is used against lice and as a tonic bath.

Vetiver oil is an ingredient in oriental “woody” perfumes. Extracts are used in hair care products. The oil is used in soaps and cosmetics, and as a fragrance fixative. It blends well with bases such as fougere, chypre, modern woody-aldehydic or amber-aldehydic bases, Oriental bases, moss and woody notes, and rose bases. Essential oil of vetiver is antioxidant.


Not assessed for safety in cosmetics by the industry panel.