Vetiver is a densely tufted, awnless, wiry, glabrous perennial grass. The plant grows
in large clumps from a much-branched root stock with erect culms 0.5-1.5 m high. The leaf
blades are relatively stiff, long and narrow--up to 75 cm long and 8 mm or less in width,
glabrous but "downward rough" along the edges. Panicles 15-30 cm long, narrow,
acute, appressed, awnless, one sessile and hermaphroditic, somewhat flattened laterally,
with short sharp spines, 3 stamens, and 2 plumose stigmas; the other spikelet pedicelled
and staminate. Some cultivated forms seldom flower. 2n=20
Perennial, tufted. Culms erect, 1-3 m tall. Leaves basal and cauline; blades elongate, to 8 dm long, thick, usually conduplicate basally, splitting along midrib apically, pubescent basally, sometimes purple, margins revolute, uppermost usually with vitreous spines; sheaths glabrous; ligule a fringe of hairs, 0.3-1 mm long. Inflorescence of spike-like branches; spike-like branches numerous, racemose, usually purple; rachis disarticulating at base of sessile spikelet. Spikelets paired (1 sessile and perfect, the other pedicellate and neuter or staminate), dorsally compressed, 2- floreted (upper floret perfect or staminate, lower floret neuter or staminate). Sessile spikelet ca 5 mm long; glumes acuminate, coriaceous, nerveless, ca 5 mm long, vitreous, papillose spinose; lemmas acuminate, purple tinged, apex scarious, margins scarious, inrolled, softly ciliate, ca 3.5 mm long; paleas scarious, ca 2 mm long, margins inrolled; caryopsis not seen. Pedicellate spikelet slightly smaller than sessile spikelet.
Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) Nash may be indexed in herbaria under the following synonyms:
Andropogon zizanioides Linn.;
Andropogon squarrosus Hack;
Andropogon muricatus Retz.;
Andropogon nardus Blanco;
Andropogon nigritanus Stapf.;
Andropogon festucoides Presl.;
Andropogon echinulatum Koenig;
Anatherum zizanioides Linn.;
Anatherum muricatum Beauv.;
Agrostis verticillata Lam;
Phalaris zizanioides Linn.
Specific information from World Bank Handbook. 1993. Vetiver Grass--A Method of
Vegetative Soil and Moisture Conservation, Allen, Charles M. 1980. Grasses of
Louisiana., and other sources.
Synonymy from various sources, with special thanks to F. Cook and S.A. Renvoize, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.